Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments
Did you know that there can be union without having unity? A union is an association or group formed by people with a common interest or purpose, while unity is the state of being united or joined together as a whole. There can be union without unity. For example, you can tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothes line. By doing so you have created a union, but there won’t be unity between these two cats, only fighting and chaos.
The church formed by Christ is a union, but that doesn’t mean there will always be unity. God understood this when He created the church. He knew that we wouldn’t always get along, so He gave us His word to help us in this matter. Paul spends a few chapters in the book of Romans discussing Christians and their relationships. In 12:17-13:14 he writes about our relationship with the world. In Romans 14:1-16:27, his focus is on getting along with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Beginning in chapter 15, Paul spends a few verses talking about the responsibility of those who are strong in faith. Romand 15:1-3 says, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
Paul commands the strong in faith to bear the weakness of those without strength (be patient), not be pleasers of self (Phil. 2:3-4), do that which is for the weaker ones’ good, and follow the example of Christ. Paul then spends a moment talking about the power and importance of the Old Testament in verse four.. It was written to teach us (there’s value in studying the O.T.), it was written to encourage us (by reading of faithful people, as in Heb. 11), and it also helps us achieve unity through its teachings. The rest of this chapter is focused on unity. We are given many commands on how to grow our relationship with each other.
Why should we follow these commands? It brings about unity in Christ. Have you ever driven a car that backfires? Or that isn’t firing on all cylinders? It is usually caused by an engine that is out of timing, faulty wiring, or fouled spark plugs. A church that isn’t unified in Christ, runs like a car that is mechanically unstable. Without unity and timing in the cylinders, you experience a lack of horse power and worsened gas mileage. It fails to function the way it was designed to run. The Lord’s body needs maintenance and work in order to function properly.
Our relationship with one another helps us to achieve this perfect unity and efficient operation. A great example of unity is a snowflake. While it is a rare sighting in Alabama, we know what they look like. Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together. The church is made up of fragile and imperfect people, but through unity we can accomplish so much more for Christ.