Monday, August 15, 2011

The Glue of Christian Unity

August 14, 2011
Josh Harris – The Glue of Christian Unity
Colossians 3:9-15

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.  Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.”

We are called “in one body.”  Miss the theme of unity and you miss the whole point of the passage.  God cares about our unity; our behavior affects the body of Christ.

How the Gospel allows the church to live in unity (The Glue):
1.        Christ above all and in all.  (verse 11)
Old behavior is taken off, new behavior is put on, and the Spirit comes to guide and grow us. 
“Here” means “in the church” – our identity is no longer our ethnicity.  New identity is Jesus Christ – a much greater identity. 
What matters most is that you’re being renewed by the Holy Spirit.  Christ matters more than anything else.  Jesus is living in them just as He is living in you.  None of us has a special claim on God; no special standing before God. 
Christian unity is destroyed when we put something else before Christ.  Our viewpoint is not more important than Who is in us, uniting us.  Jesus loves them just as much as He loves you.  Nothing we have done or earned or can do gets us a better standing.
2.       Gospel Identity (verse 12)
Behavior – compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness. 
We must remember that we have become “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved.”  Do you believe this of yourself?  How do you define yourself?  We can never buy or earn these descriptions – “holy” and “beloved” – that’s the point of grace – it’s an undeserved gift.  He chose us before we were born.  “You are holy and beloved.”  The word beloved in this verse is the same word God uses to describe Christ:  “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  (Matthew 3:17, 17:5, 2 Peter 1:17)
So often we use labels to describe people we feel are unworthy of our or God’s love.  “They dress weird, they act weird, they make me feel uncomfortable.”  These labels are unloving and unChrist-like.  Nothing compares to the labels God gives us:  Holy, beloved, made righteous, one body, heirs with Christ, family. 
It is only because of our unity in Christ that we can share His grace with others.  When we try to find security apart from God, we fail to see ourselves and others as God does.  We must actively choose to view others as God does.  How DARE we label each other that way?  They are holy and beloved just as we are.       

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