Let’s be clear. The Bible mandates us to have an attitude of unity in the church. But look at what it requires: humility, gentleness, patience, and acceptance of one another in love. Have you ever been to a church business meeting where some of those requirements were not met? Have you ever been to a church business meeting where none of those requirements were met? Have you ever been to a church business meeting where true humility is displayed?
Unity requires humility. That means we view others as better than ourselves.
Unity requires gentleness. That means we control our temper and demonstrate kindness to other church members, whether they are good guys or jerks.
Unity requires patience. That means we put up with a lot even if we are frustrated and perplexed at the behavior and attitude of others.
Unity requires acceptance of one another in love. That means we accept people unconditionally. It doesn’t mean we condone sinful behavior. But it does mean we demonstrate a lot of grace.
Okay, I admit it. I just read my own words. I looked at the requirements of unity, and I thought, No way! There is no way I can be humble, gentle, patient, and loving to some of the people I know.
And then I remember.
I remember how much Christ loves me. I remember how He died for me. I remember how I deserve none of it.
It was grace. Totally unmerited favor. In His strength, I can have an attitude of unity. Indeed, I must have an attitude of unity.
Thom S. Rainer, I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian (Nashville: B&H, 2015).
I have just completed a series of lessons based on Thom Rainer’s book, I Will. They are available as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. For a medium-sized church, lesson subscriptions are only $10 per teacher per year. Lessons correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines as well as the International Standard Series.