“UNITY WITHIN THE BODY OF MESSIAH,”  10.05.19

Scriptures/References for STUDY TOPIC, “UNITY WITHIN THE BODY OF MESSIAH,” 10.05.19

Just what exactly are Yahweh’s expectations of His people in regards to unity? How are His people supposed to maintain that unity? How do we walk in unity within the body of Messiah?

Paul makes several statements in regards to this issue. He says, in Ephesians 4: “I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you were called— with complete humility and gentleness, with patience, putting up with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity . . . .” (Eph.4:1-3). The fact that he indicates that we are to put up with means that we are not to expect uniformity – i.e., we will have individual differences and there will be areas that we have varying opinions, different tastes, preferences, personalities, etc., but we are to be patient with each other, tolerant of those differences, and let those differences go.

“Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, through the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose” (Col.1:10). What is important is to not allow divisions over things that do not constitute violations of God’s Word, going against those beliefs which are foundational to the Gospel of the Kingdom. Paul referred then to rivalries over petty issues: “For it has been reported to me . . . . there are rivalries among you. . . . .  you are each saying, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Kefa,” or “I follow Messiah” (1 Cor.1:11,12 ).

I CORINTHIANS 3:3-9

3 you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.

7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building

They seem to be arguing about different interpretations by different individuals, and which one is more correct, just as we observe amongst Yeshua’s people today. Paul admonishes them, pointing out that: (a) they are being carnal to argue over these things, and (b) that only through Messiah is there truth, and by His Word, and what He did (1 Cor.1:13,14;3:3-9). Similarly, James points out that “quarrels and conflicts among you come  . . from . . .. passions that battle within your body parts. . .” (James 4:1,2). It is carnal/fleshly when Yeshua’s followers argue about trivial issues, and it so grieves the Father’s heart. We are not to get caught up in unnecessary disagreements over non-essential issues.

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about Torah, for they are unprofitable and useless. Dismiss a quarrelsome person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is twisted and is sinning—he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:9-11). Of course they did not have the New Testament at that time; however, the same applies to contentious issues that arise from NT writings regarding alternate interpretations in any matter. Paul indicates, at one point, that if these types of striving and contentions continue, he will need to employ disciplinarian action. “What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Cor.4:21). The shepherd of the flock is responsible to maintain order, obedience, and sometimes that entails discipline.

“Now in those days, when the disciples were multiplying, grumbling arose among the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily support. So the Twelve called together the whole group of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. So, brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the Word” (Acts 6:1-4). There are always peaceful solutions to these irritating situations; and when decisions are capably and peacefully deployed, unity in the body can be maintained.

Unity is maintained when we follow Yeshua’s call to take up our cross and follow Him. Walk as He walked: “clothe yourselves in tender compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience— bearing with one another and forgiving each other, if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord pardoned you, so also you must pardon others. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfect harmony. Let the shalom of Messiah rule in your hearts—to this shalom you were surely called in one body. Also be thankful. Let the word of Messiah dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Col.3:12-16). If the body of Messiah practiced this consistently, there would be no dissention, division, striving, back-biting, false accusations, or critical, condemnation, judgmental attitudes/words spoken – no offendedness.

Let us summarize with Yeshua’s call to unity during His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, a true expression of His heart: “that they all may be one. Just as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You, so also may they be one in Us  . . . . that they may be one just as We are one— I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfected in unity” (John 17:21-23).

© 2018, revised 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.

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