Prayer Matters: Unity
Romans 15:5-7 is really relevant for us today. Lately it seems like everyone in the world is against each other, tearing others down without a second thought. But in this passage, Paul instructs us to live in unity. Obviously, this is easier said than done. Sometimes people can think that unity means everyone acts, believes, and lives in the exact same way. I don’t think that’s what Paul meant here by unity. God created every single person to be a unique and different part of the body. There is nobody exactly like you in the world. You were made specifically the way you are for a purpose. Though we were all created differently, we were also all created to work together as one. This is true unity.
Something To Talk About:
Romans 15:5: “May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.” It’s easy to read that verse and think that you just have to get along with everyone and please people and for it be just perfect all the time. Slapping on smiley faces and singing Kumbaya through clenched teeth isn’t the answer. Fighting hard for unity is. True unity must come from God. So we must seek Him for it. When we are united, we are unstoppable. We pray for unity because:
- Because we desperately need each other: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16) There are times that we need help. God did not create us to be “lone rangers” in the body of Christ. He actually built us, not only to need Him, but to need each other. The purpose of the local church is much more than gaining information once a week. It is supposed to connect us with the rest of our body. Reading the Bible gives you an understanding as to why the New Testament writers had to continually talk about unity. It’s because the Church was a brand new type of community. Think about this. In the early church, we not only have people of different ethnicities coming together, learning how to worship and live together, but we also have people of very different backgrounds. Noblewomen, town leaders, slave owners and slaves, businessmen and tax collectors, priests and prostitutes, each of them coming together for the first time and trying to do family together. It’s an entirely messy and difficult situation. So there were so many fears, anxieties, annoyances, difficulties that kept believers from really embracing and enjoying each other. Unity is difficult, but necessary because we need each other.
- Because the world will see God’s love: Above all else we must love one another. Love covers all things. Love means friendships stay together in the midst of disagreement. The essential nature of God is love. If Christ is in us, God’s love is in us, and it should be flowing out of us. Those who looked at the early church were amazed at the love the early Christians had for one another. That kind of love needs unity. We can work together within the confines of what we do agree upon, and this we are doing, but unity in love means we can work together even when we do not agree. Unity in love means we do not think we are better than anyone else individually and as churches. Unity in love means we care for each other and love one another. We need that kind of love when we are hurt or challenged by someone. We need that kind of love when we have conflict. This love and grace will not take the hurt or the conflict away; but knowing that Christ is with you every step of the way and that you are called to serve with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, will help maintain the unity of the body.
- And because we can do infinitely more together: Every follower of Jesus desires to accomplish something extraordinary. But it is when you combine many small and seemingly insignificant contributions, that you see significant results. Real teamwork proves just how much you can accomplish together. In football, a successful play requires every man to fulfill his particular assignment well. The right guard isn’t watching the left tight end, to see if he’s doing his job. He focuses on his own responsibility. When every man respects and trusts his teammates and does his own job well, the team succeeds. When believers work together, we can accomplish much more than we can separately. That may require us to build bridges, understand each other’s role a little better, and to cooperate more. We may need to better organize the time, talents, and resources of people who want to help. We need to be united in our common commitment to help those in need and to demonstrate the love of God and the power of the gospel to those who are far from the heart of God. It takes practice and there is no better time than today to start.
- Why is unity important for all churches? If all the people in Northstar were in “complete unity,” how would the church look different?
- Jesus prayed that those who believe in Him would be one “so that the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:21, 23). Why is our unity a powerful argument for the reality of Jesus?
- Toward the end of His prayer (John 17: 23), Jesus mentions that God’s love for us is as deep and perfect as His love for His own Son. How is this motivation for us to live in unity?
- Does your life include Christians from diverse churches and cultures? How could your faith become more inclusive?
- How can our small group become known for showing—not just talking about—God’s love?
- Are there any barriers to unity in our church/small group? If so, what are they? How may they be addressed?
- How has this message on unity spoken to you? How will you seek to live out Jesus’ and Paul’s prayer and encourage others to do the same?
Take One Thing Home with You:
As I mentioned, Paul’s prayer in Romans is very similar to Jesus’ prayer in John 17: “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:20–21) Jesus, knowing the end is near, prays one final time for his followers. Striking, isn’t it, that He prayed not for their success, their safety, or their happiness. He prayed for their unity. He prayed that they would love each other. As He prayed for them, He also prayed for those who “believe in me through their message.” So He was praying for us. I hope you now understand as a result of this message that unity matters to God. Unity is the key to reaching the world for Christ? The world will be won for Christ when the church is one in Christ.