In this sermon, Pastor Kirrily continues to look at how we live as Christians now that we have been saved. The key theme is one of being united by staying humble and loving one another deeply.
Manly Life Church, Sunday 19th October
We are continuing our 1 Peter series… I’m going to read the scripture and then introduce the theme we will focus on today – THE POWER OF UNITY – before we walk through the scripture.
This scripture is part of a section of Peter’s letter that is addressed to Christians living in a challenging environment and encouraging them to remain become unified in their faith and steadfast in their Christlike living even in difficult circumstances they are facing, loving one another well, and responding to persecution with grace, rather than retaliation.
1 Peter 3:8-9, which says, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded (of one mind, united in spirit, agreeable, live in harmony), be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate, and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
The thing about the Word of God is that it’s timeless, it’s alive and relevant as at time of writing and to now. We’re seeing unity being challenged at every level in our current world.
- Unity within families is increasingly challenged as a high number of families are experiencing fracture
- Unity within the nation is increasingly challenged our leaders are trying to lead our nation into places of agreement of difficult and complex issues
- Unity within the church at large has been challenged where human fracture within spiritual leaders is causing public disgrace and sadly, christians are often the first to throw stones.
- Unity is challenged wherever and whenever we place an opinion, or a preference, or a theology, or a passion, or pride, or hurt, or disappointment, ABOVE our pursuit to LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS.
Unity is a state of common purpose, agreement, understanding.
It’s about shared intention and willingness to work together towards that end.
It’s about mutual respect, communication, empathy and shared values.
It’s a powerful force that brings diverse people, diverse thoughts and diverse methods together that strengthens relationships and outcomes.
In the context of church community, it creates a real sense of acceptance and belonging.
I remember my Dad saying to me many years ago when I was all about sharing my educated opinions with whoever would listen 🙂 “Kirrily, just keep in mind that it’s important to be known what you are for, more than what you’re against”… because by focusing on what we’re against, we tend to, whether intended or not, to create disunity. Instead of embracing the beautiful gift of adversity diversity in the pursuit of unity, we begin to magnify opinion, conflict, poor communication, power struggles, tensions which all create disunity. What are magnifying?
UNITY DISPLAYS THE LOVE AND GRACE OF JESUS
God calls us to love one another as a demonstration of our faith to the world – with the intended outcome that people will recognise believers are of one in their love for Christ and one another.
As Jesus said to his disciples as part of his final discourse before his crucifixion:
John 13:34-35 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Jesus gave this instruction to his disciples about how they are to live and love in order to continue Jesus’ work and spread the gospel message after he is gone.
Earlier in the same discourse, he washed his disciples’ feet and explained that his acts of service were an example of the kind of love they were to show one another. It’s beyond the commandment of “love your neighbour as yourself” found in Lev 19:18 and charges Jesus followers to love as he loved – sacrificially and selflessly – and that this new blueprint would be a powerful witness to the world of the truth of his message and of their status as his disciples.
UNITY IS INTENTIONAL
Requires a decision to engage – to move towards people.
From our main passage… and breaking it down because unity is something of an intentional practice.
1 Peter 3:8-9, which says, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate, and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
How can we cultivate unity in our lives and in our church community?
First, living in harmony with one another involves setting aside grudges, overlooking minor differences, and working to find common ground. When we make the decision to live in harmony with one another, we are choosing to prioritise our relationships over our own interests. There are times we can agree to disagree on preference to unify on mission.
be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate
Second, being sympathetic and compassionate involves putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, seeking to understand their feelings and perspectives. Being compassionate starts with recognizing that we are all created in God’s image and that we all have struggles, fears, and problems. We need to show kindness to each other and reach out to help one another.
There’s a danger of algorithms on social media that connect you with what you want to see and hear.
But the danger is also face to face where we move away from people we have different perspectives from and surround ourselves only with the same perspectives as us.
The problem with this is we become condition ourselves instead of listening to others.
Bible says “iron sharpens iron”
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Third, exhibiting humility means putting others first and recognizing that we are all flawed and imperfect. Humility means being willing to learn from one another, being gracious, and acknowledging our mistakes and weaknesses. We can learn something from everyone and anyone – approaching connection that was shows humility and value.
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
Fourth, simply put, as believers, we are called to be a blessing to others, even to those who do not like us or mistreat us. Peter encourages us not to retaliate or seek revenge but to instead bless others. PRAY FOR PEOPLE AND GET GOD’S HEART FOR THEM.
UNITY DRAWS PEOPLE INTO GOD’S PRESENCE
Unity is a powerful thing. It was the foundation of the early Christian church as seen in Acts 2:42-47. The believers were devoted to the teachings of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. They shared everything they had and were generous towards those in need. As a result, the church grew rapidly and many people were drawn to it.
Acts 2 – The Believers Form a Community
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper[i]), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[j]— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
What can we learn from their practice of unity?
First, they were devoted to the teachings of the apostles. They didn’t just show up to listen, they were committed to learning and understanding the Word of God. They recognized that it was through the teachings of the apostles that they could grow in their faith.
Second, they were devoted to fellowship. They were intentional about spending time with one another, getting to know each other, and supporting one another. They recognized that Christianity wasn’t an individual pursuit, but a community of believers that needed to support each other.
Third, they were devoted to the breaking of bread and prayer. They recognized the importance of coming together to share a meal and to pray. They recognized that it was through these practices that they could connect with one another and with God.
Fourth, they shared everything they had. They were generous towards those in need, recognizing that we are all part of the same family. They recognized that the resources they had were not their own, but God’s, and that they were called to be good stewards of those resources.
This is a community that drew people in to the Lords presence, “the Lord added to their number daily” Acts 2:47
As we reflect on this story, we can see the power of unity in action. We can see what is possible when we are intentional about our faith, about our relationships, about our prayer
There are numerous benefits of unity in the church, some of which include:
1. Strength – When people are unified, they become much stronger than they would be individually. This is true in every aspect of life, for whenever people join together, greater strength and power is formed. When people come together in the church, they become a powerful force that can impact the world.
2. Fellowship – Unity fosters a sense of fellowship and family within the church. Believers become closer to one another, sharing in each other’s joys and struggles. They provide support and encouragement to each other, making the church a place where people can find solace, healing, and love.
3. Growth – Unity creates an atmosphere of growth. When people are working together as a team, they are more likely to achieve significant growth in their personal lives, their relationships, and in the church.
Maybe there are some intentional things you can do to be like-minded, agreeable, unified for the sake of the bigger picture
– whether it be the cause of family cohesion OR
– for the sake of long term friendship, for the cause of the local church or a worthy mission…
- Finding out someone’s story moves our heart away for misunderstanding and towards sympathy
- Praying for one another moves our heart away from annoyance and frustration and towards love for one another
- Listening has got to be the most valuable one can offer another, and it moves us away from indifference and towards compassion for another
- Cultivating curiosity moves us away from pride and feelings of superiority and towards humility and vulnerability and willingness to learn from one you might feel better than for whatever reason
What if we made an intentional move toward unity as a local church family – the kind of unity that is empowered by the Holy Spirit, deeply caring for one other, sharing where needed, and pursuing a shared vision that is bigger than ourselves. Unity is a reflection of God’s character, and when we demonstrate it, we bring glory to Him and we draw others to Him…
Most importantly, be united with Christ
Ephesians 2:13 NLT
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ