Unity of the Church
This was a cell group resource that I shared to my cell group members a couple of weeks ago based on Ephesians 4:1-6. Feel free to use, give a feedback, and modify to your cell group needs.
Why do we have to maintain the unity of the church?
How do we maintain the unity of the church?
Hopefully you can share and teach your cell group members how important it is to maintain the unity and teach them why it is important.
IceBreaker: Have you ever known a friend who walked out of a church or from a ministry? What’s his/her reason?
(this question is to identify and stress out that these problems are real; that many Christians walk out from church or from a minsitry mostly because of personal problems with someone or with their leaders)
Many Christians often walk out from church because they are disappointed with the church (they didn’t get what they wanted), with the leader or the pastor, or with people inside the church (dislike, hatred, annoyed, etc). We even see that there are so many Christians’ denominations nowadays that actually divide us from ever become as ONE Body of Christ.
So let us learn how to maintain the unity of our church for God and the reason why it is important to maintain such unity. Let’s look at what Paul taught us.
Read Ephesians 4:1-6.
1I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
This means that we need to understand/read the passages before. In Ephesians 1-3, we learnt that we were the elected, the children of God who have been saved by His Grace alone and not through our good deeds. We are Christians, saved from the dark into the light. We’ve all been united regardless what we are (Gentiles and Jews) into His Kingdom. He died for our sins and for our trespasses so that we may be one in Him.
THEREFORE, as people who have been called by God, we need to live a life worthy of the calling!
We can actually divide verse 1-6 into 3 parts:
- Verse 1: The Goal (to live worthy of the calling)
- Verse 2-3: How to maintain the unity of the church?
- Verse 4-6: Why do we have to maintain the unity of the church? Based on what?
Q: What did Paul want us to do?
A: To live worthy of the calling by having these traits: humilty, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love, and eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.
Q: Paul “urged”. What does urge mean? and why do you think Paul used “urge” instead of “ask” or “want”?
A: Because it is so important and because he knows that it is not an easy thing to do.
How do we know that it is important? If we look at the opposite things he wanted us to do, we can understand straight away:
- Humble vs Proud
- Gentle (Meekness,Long Suffering) vs Harsh
- Patience vs Impatience
- Love vs No Love?
Imagine what will happen in the church if all congregation members are proud, harsh, impatience, and have no love towards one another! That church will be gone in a second!
The things that Paul wanted us to have, are actually similar to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
Q: Why is it important to have a humility at church?
A: Look at an example: Satan. He was one of the greatest angel but then he fell because he wanted to be like God. He was arrogant. Why is it dangerous to be arrogant at church? Because we’ll feel better and smarter than the other members. We’ll feel that we know more and “holier” than the others. Then we’ll love to critize others to show that we are better than them! How often do you feel that you are better than your other friends at church simply because you are not doing what they are doing wrong?
GENTLENESS (MEEKNESS, LONG SUFFERING)
In the original translation, it means “Power under control”. Often used as a term to tame wild animals. It means power under God’s control. We don’t let our emotions controlling us.
Q: What should we do when we have different opinions with one another?
A: We should go through the differences without attacking one another. We will have different opinions with one another and when that happens, what do we do? Often we get angry because of very simple and silly mistakes that others do. We get harsh and let our emotions control us and dislike/hate that particular person. Sometimes we let harsh words come out from our mouths!
Be gentle towards one another and understand that everyone can make mistakes, including yourself!
Q: So what should we do when someone makes a mistake?
A: Be patient and understand that we are all human beings who can make mistakes, forget things, or can’t see what others see. Be patient and forgive them. We are not supposed to be a judge who loudly claim how low they are and punish them harshly! Your pastor, your leader, or even a friend at church can make mistakes. Often we know what their weaknesses are but instead of helping and supporting them, we point that mistakes loudly and judgmentally!
We can help them out. When your leader forgets, you can help to remind them. When your leader makes mistakes, you can help by telling them about the problem (and if possible, a suggestion to solve the problem). These are much better than:
- Telling others how ignorant your leader is and that he/she doesn’t care about your ministry.
- Thinking how unworthy a person is to be your leader (and subconsciously you think that you can do better than him/her)
Remember how patient our God is with us? How often do you fall into sin but you know deep inside that He still loves you? Can’t you do the same to your brothers and sisters? No body is perfect!
BEARING WITH ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE
Q: What does this mean?
A: Help one another and help other people when they do their ministries. Pray for them and teach them with love. When they stumble, encourage and help them to go through with it. If we see something lacking on other ministries, we can offer our help because we are all doing the ministry for God. We are not supposed to compete with each other and prove that our ministry is much better than the others! Instead of complaining and just critizing, help each other out!
Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
EAGER – Try our best and try hard to maintain the unity even though it is not easy. Also, do this continuously!
Peace -We always try to maintain peace. It doesn’t mean that we let people to be sinful or do things wrong. We are not supposed to stand idly when we see the wrongdoings. Jesus always taught us to love when we critize others and to pray with one another.
Also, read Colossians 3:12-16 (Different congregation/church, but the same message by Paul)
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BE UNITED? (verse 4-6)
Paul taught us to be one not because we do whatever it takes to be one, but because we are ONE in Christ, because of 1 GOSPEL MESSAGE. If you observe these passages, the word “One” is repeated many times here. One Spirit (the Holy Spirit), One Lord (Jesus) and One Father. If there are arguments or different opinions about the Gospel or about God the Trinity, then we MUST make it right. Paul didn’t teach us to be quiet when people misinterpreted or insult the Word of God for the sake of unity. However, if we have different opinions about things out of these, then we are not supposed to fight with each other!
One Body. Body of Christ. Read 1 Corinthians 12.
Q: What does this mean? The style of baptism? At what age do we have to be baptise? Or Where we should be baptised?
A: No. Baptism here means a symbol, that we all have been baptised in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. One baptism to make us realise how sinful we are, how we have buried our “old self” to become a new person in Christ. A symbol that accepts Him as our Savior. It doesn’t matter how we are baptised or where!
Check out 1Corinthians 12:13 – “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” Read 1Corinthians 12:23-27 too.
Q: As a congregation in our church, when something goes wrong in our church, what do we do?
A: We usually complain, blame the pastor, blame our leaders, talk behind the back/gossiping, etc.
However, if we are ONE, ONE faith, ONE God, ONE Hope, ONE Body of Christ, aren’t we supposed to be part of it? Aren’t we supposed to help, participate, and serve in it? If we concern that a church is not doing what it needs to be done, shouldn’t we be part of it, take the initative and help the church to glorify God even more? It’s much better rather than sitting in the corner and complaining that the church should have done better. Take the part and join in! Help your leaders, help your pastor! It’s not their church, it’s YOURS too!
Take a look at Jesus’ prayer to His Father in John 17. He even prayed so that we may be united!
Q: Why is it important to be united? (based on Jesus’ prayer)
A: So that everyone knows that we are the children of God and so that He may be glorified! How can we be the light of the world if we are so busy stabbing one another inside our church?
One day, all of us will be judged by God (even Christians) and be responsible in what we do in the world! Let’s make sure that we do what God wants us to do!
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