Earlier this week, my husband, a friend and I watched “The Case for Christ” at the cinema. It was a great movie, and a wonderful testimony, but what made the outing truly memorable, was the crowd at the cinema. We have watched movies at the cinema before, but there is something different about watching a movie specifically made to glorify God, alongside a bunch of people who clearly adore Him. It reminded me of the unity in spirit we have in Christ, and of the celebration we can share in, together, every day.
[Romans 12:10-12] says,
“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…”
Verse 15 continues,
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
There was a power in that cinema because even though we were all strangers, we were family. We all loved Jesus, and we all rejoiced at a life saved through grace. We were all praying for friends and family who did not yet know Christ. We rejoiced at the faithfulness of God who pursues us relentlessly until we surrender to His love. When the movie ended, I turned to see others gathered there and it was so encouraging. Here we were – different people, different talents, different ministries, all joined together by one spirit. Isn’t this what God’s church is?
Among churches and even in one church, there can be differences of opinion. The apostle Paul, for example, had conflicts with many other believers. One thing, however, remains crucial to the unity of the church – love. As [1 Peter 4:8-10] says,
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, ministry it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
What is God’s church? It is His bride, His people united in one spirit, in one body, in His love. He loves us and desires that we love Him, but also that we love one another since loving one another is an outpouring of His love abiding in us. Imagine if the world saw past the disputes of the church and recognised the beauty of her love? The unity in our rejoicing, the unity in our serving, the unity of our love.
How do we love one another? How do we overcome conflict even within the church? We are human, and conflict happens, but there is a way to resolve it in a unity of spirit and of love. There are many practical points to this – forgiveness, accountability, reconciliation where it is possible, but at the heart of all this is the state of our heart, our attitude towards our family in Christ.
The passages above in Romans and in 1 Peter show us how we can demonstrate love to one another.
- Be kind and affectionate
- Give preference
- Take part in the work
- Rejoice in hope
- Be patient in tribulation
- Rejoice together
- Weep together
- Serve one another gladly
When we look at this list, a couple of key characteristics jump out.
- That we honour one another
- That we serve one another
- That we rejoice together
- That we weep together
- That we pray together
- That we advance God’s kingdom together
How do these things look like practically? Here are some simple things we could all do at any time.
- Give someone a word of encouragement
- Celebrate a testimony of God’s faithfulness in someone else’s life
- Pray alongside someone who is hurting or persevering for something
- Get involved at your local church
- Thank God for His church
Why should God’s church be divided? Instead, let us spur one another onwards in love, and join the united celebration of Christ’s life and resurrection.
[Colossians 3:14-15] – “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts to which you were called in one body; and be thankful.”