But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:9–11 (ESV)
I have grown up in and been a part of the church all of my life. The church has always been a part of our family DNA. It was where we built relationships with God and with others in the fellowship. We looked forward to being with those of like faith and spending time together.
It has been those relationships that we developed that have helped us through some of the most difficult days. People who gathered around us, prayed for us, encouraged us and gave us guidance when needed. Godly relationships have had lifelong impacts on my life.
The church is designed with unity in mind.
It was God’s desire from the beginning that we have a common faith and a common purpose. Our faith in God, our fellowship through the gospel, and the strengthening of personal relationships are God’s design.
This design is perfect, yet the people that adhere to it are not. Yes, there are issues that do come up relationally because of the human element. Also, there are individuals who are used by the enemy to divide, destroy, or discourage people from the faith. However, God in His wisdom chose the church to provide for the spiritual and relational development of his people.The foundation of our relationship with the church is the Gospel of Jesus. Any other foundation is not capable of handling human shortcomings like the Gospel of grace. Click To Tweet
Our Relationship with the Local Church
The relationship that believers have with the local church is based on the mutual participation we have in the blessing of God’s grace. We are unified together on the basis of our common reception of the forgiveness of sin and the blessings that result.
The local church is designed for us to be active in. How? By participating in the work of the kingdom and building relationships with one another. Where most get hung up is the expectation that everyone will not only be perfect but that they can be a part of the church by proxy.
Additionally, without the grace element of the gospel at work in our lives, we hold others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. So when the church people do something that we don’t like (“they didn’t shake my hand..”) then we get in a huff. Then we are off to find another church we can critique.
God calls us to be a Fellowship…A Community of God’s People
We are called by God to be in fellowship with one another because we are in a relationship with Him. Our common bond is not necessarily our denomination, location, or era. Our common bond is that we are all on a journey in our relationship with our heavenly Father.
Look at this verse that I started this post out with: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9–11 (ESV)
Our common bond is the fact that God, by His mercy called us out of darkness into the light of the Gospel. Where we were once separated from Him, we are now joined to Him and called “His People!” It is through this common experience of transformation that God knits us together.
…you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 (ESV)
God will bless a people united in fellowship
When we do not flow in the unity of our common relationship with God we develop unhealthy relationships. Not only does this hinder the work of God through our lives, but also the work of God in our lives. His blessing and our effectiveness is based upon our willingness to walk in unity under the leadership of our Lord.
Jesus told us: Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:19–20 (ESV)
The Father said: if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV)
There is something powerful that happens when the church can walk shoulder to shoulder, seeking the will of the Father, and pursuing the Great Commission. Change in our community, state, nation, and the world happens when the church can work together for a common purpose. Reaching the lost and honoring the Father!
It is our responsibility to view others through the grace and mercy that we have received. When we recognize the value that God has placed in the people we join together with we view them differently. We must establish in our hearts the pursuit of God and unity in the body if we are to be effective.
The world needs a unified church to share the message of a transformative God. When the church comes together for the purpose of which it was intended, it will make an impact on the world around it. The church must carry and live out the message of the Gospel in our relationships with one another.
A great example of unity in the body is when the world recognizes us for our love and care for one another. The world sees plenty of division, let’s be different!
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Great read, Chad. I talked about unity in the Body last night in regard to the ministry of the gifts of the Spirit. There is strength in relying on one another in the Body of Christ.