Perfect Unity Starts With Leaders
A young man desires to serve Jesus by starting a ministry for business people; his religious leader tells him to go serve a church for twenty years and then come back with a grandiose idea.
Another man launches a ministry for frequent travelers; it is destroyed in infancy by a religious leader who sees the new ministry as competition.
A new missionary sacrifices all to serve an indigenous people in South America; the leader of a separate missionary group in the same country sabotages the new worker and drives him out.
A new church board member questions a church rule that cannot be supported by Scripture; the church leader drives him out of the church for disobeying a church elder’s command.
An assistant pastor has some trouble in his marriage; the elders fire him for not having his house in order.
Sound familiar? As a leader in the kingdom of God, do you encounter times when confrontation trumps collaboration?
These are examples of leaders’ disobedience to the prayer of Jesus for perfect unity (John 17:23) and his absolute command to love each other as much as he loves us, which means being willing to die for our brothers, not dismissing them as competition.
All these stories have happened to people I know. Imagine how many more stories there are!
In a “Gospel Parallel” like the one found in the NIV Study Bible, we have the closest thing to a chronological presentation of the four Gospels of Jesus. In it, there is a fascinating series of six confrontations between old and new leaders, and three principles to be followed by leaders to discern how to practice perfect unity with each other.
The first confrontation is reported in Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; and Luke 5:17:26. This is the story of four friends, who remove the roof of a house to get their paralyzed friend close to Jesus, who they believe can heal their friend. When Jesus sees their great faith, he does not ask whether they belong to the synagogue at Capernaum. He tells the paralytic that his sins have been forgiven. His priority is always compassionate love.
But the religious leaders of Capernaum have a different priority – control of their turf. They strongly challenge Jesus’ ability to forgive sins, let alone enable the lame man to walk. The leaders would rather accuse Jesus of blasphemy than celebrate an astonishing miracle together as fellow men of God.
What about your organization? No one is perfect this side of heaven, least of all me. It is likely that you and I both could use a tune-up on consciously practicing unity in ways that will attract the world, instead of making them scoff when we drive away a member of your own family who carries the same spiritual DNA.
Streamside Unity exists to show the world that Christianity is about the magnetic unity of believers in Jesus Christ as a family demonstrating unconditional love to each other, but also to those who have not yet discovered but are attracted to Him as His adopted child.
*Image credit: djma / 123RF Stock Photo