The Blessing of Unity

Max Lucado said, The church is asking God for revival, and God is asking the Church for unity.

What if the missing ingredient for changing the world is teamwork? What if Jesus was serious about what He prayed when He said,

Matthew 18:19-20 (ESV Strong’s)

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.”

 

What if Jesus was so serious He spent His last few hours before His execution praying again and again,

 

John 17:23 (ESV Strong’s)

I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

 

A FAMILY AFFAIR

 

I love family… but most of our families have taught us the lesson that brothers rarely dwell together in unity. Two chickens tied at the legs and thrown over a clothesline may be joined, but they do not have unity. That’s the case in many families…

 

Cain killed Abel (Gen. 4), Lot quarrelled with Abraham (Gen. 13), Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him for a slave (Gen. 37), and the brothers did not even get along among themselves (Gen. 45:24)! Miriam and Aaron criticised their brother Moses (Num. 12), and some of David’s children turned against him (2 Sam. 13–18; and note 2 Sam. 12:10).

 

Our Lord’s own disciples frequently quarrelled over which one of them was the greatest (Matt. 18:1ff.; Mark 9:33ff.; Luke 22:23ff.), and Paul and Barnabas argued over John Mark and finally broke company and chose new ministry companions (Acts 15:36-41). The church began in visible unity (Acts 2:1, 44, 46), but when you read Paul’s epistles, you find a sad story of rivalry and division, and it is not much better today.

 

Today I want to examine one of my favourite Psalms…

 

Psalm 133 was likely written by David to be sung as people journeyed to Jerusalem. But it’s one thing to travel for a day or two together, or to spend Christmas lunch or Sunday afternoon visiting relatives, but it is another thing entirely to live with them!

 

Psalms 133 (ESV Strong’s)

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard,

on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!

It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!

For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

 

Lord give us unity and understanding of this Psalm.

 

In verse 1, the Hebrew word for dwell is yasab, which means to live or abode together. It also means to marry. It’s one thing to meet someone unpleasant, or have to spend a few hours or even days together, but imagine being married to them!

 

It’s where we live that dictates the blessings of God. Verse 1 might be  challenging to live, but easy to understand. Unity is pleasant, it’s fun, it’s peace and harmony. We should want to live there. Disunity is horrible, painful, tense. We know we should be shooting for unity, in our homes, families and church.

 

OILS AIN’T OILS

 

But what’s the deal with verse 2. Psalm 133:2 is often overlooked, because it is weird. It’s messy. If someone dumped oil on my head, I’m not sure I’d see it as a blessing.

 

Oil represents the grace, anointing, presence and power of the Holy Spirit. And in verse 2, it doesn’t  just stay on the head, it flows over the head, down the beard and all the way down until to edge of the garment. It is not just an anointing, it’s a drenching!

 

Today Jesus wants the whole of His body the church anointed… Every person, not just the pastor, not just the leaders, every man, woman and child.

 

Remember the woman  who said to herself…

 

Mark 5:28 (ESV Strong’s)

“If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.”

 

The woman touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed, because the anointing flowed right out to the edge of Jesus’ garments. In church, most people will not touch the head, the pastor, because he cannot clone himself dozens of times to get around everyone. But they will touch the edge of the church.

 

That’s why we need unity! The oil only flows where there is unity, and in church it flows down the head, across the breastplate, across leaders and departments and out to the very edge. I love hearing about people without position, without fanfare, just ministering to those outside the church in the Anointing of the Spirit.

 

Stay united, He’ll keep you anointed.

 

TURNING OFF THE TAP

 

Humans have a natural bent for independence. Division in the camp is destructive… When you divide you cut the flow of the anointing of God.. You turn off the tap! When you unite, you keep the oil flowing, which is why Paul said,

 

1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV Strong’s)

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

 

We can see the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through each of us, we can see healing, miracles, lives transformed, people won to Jesus, we can all of us share in these ministries, but only if we live in unity.

 

The other day I pick up up a glass, and the glass was oily. It slipped through my fingers and smashed. The enemy might try and grab us, but if we are anointed with the oil of unity in the Spirit, he cannot grasp us!

 

UNITY IS POWERFUL

 

I mentioned last week that unity is powerful, for either good or evil. God knew that when He saw the tower of Babel, when He said,

 

Genesis 11:6 (ESV Strong’s)

And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

 

When evil men unite around a common cause they become powerful, like communists, Nazis or Isis. But how much more power is it to unite around God and His goodness? Unity brings a supernatural power!

 

So let me share with you what we can and must unite around…

 

1.     UNITY AROUND DESTINY NOT DAYS GONE BY

 

So many Christians and churches unite around what’s happened in the past, but they don’t unite around what God is doing in the future.

 

Every move of God has 4 parts…

 

A Man, one person who starts with a vision, and people gather around him, such as John Wesley, Martin Luther, William Booth, Brian Houston

A Movement, more people join, a movement begins, great things happen, look at the Salvation Army, Methodism, Hillsong.

A Machine, the thing is moving, but people are no longer inspired the same way, but going through the motions… looks good, but underneath it isn’t.

A Monument, to things in the past. Many great moves of God, so powerful and innovative 100-200 years ago, are now monuments to past glories.

 

Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV Strong’s)

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

 

We have seen God do great things here at Ignite, but the best is yet to come. Whatever your pedigree, it’s hats off to the past, but it’s coats off to the future. So let’s celebrate the victories of the past, but let’s unite around destiny God has for us!

 

2.      UNITY AROUND COMMONALITY NOT CONTRASTS

 

Visiting London with Bill Newman one day, we were in a tube station near the Arsenal’s Stadium. I noticed a sea of red and white, and I asked one guy near me who had won the game. When he found out I was an Arsenal fan from Australia, a whole load of people gathered around shaking my hand and slapping me in the back. I didn’t know these people, never seen the, before, but we had the Arsenal in common, and the differences faded away instantly.

 

We all have differences, but we can choose to let them go, to put our differences aside and have unity in the things we share in common.

 

Paul picks up on this…

 

1 Corinthians 12:15-18 (ESV Strong’s)

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

 

We need to unite on what we have in common, and love the differences.

 

3.      UNITY AROUND PRINCIPLES, NOT PREFERENCES

 

We live in a world which calls preferences principles and principles preferences. Think about it!

 

I’d have thought gender and relationships were pretty self explanatory, but today someone’s preferences are elevated above scientific principles.

 

In the church, preferences strengthen segregation. Principles strengthen foundations. Beware of those elevating their preferences, their understanding, their version of things to a principle, and twisting Scripture to do it.

 

The style of music, type of preaching, these are preferences, not principles.

 

So what’s the big principle we can unite around? The Word of God!

 

Ignite is not built around my preferences, church traditions, laser lights or smoke, it’s built on the Word of God, and we believe that

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV Strong’s)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

 

What unites us is far more significant than what divides us. In the end, Principles will outlast preferences, fashions, trends, programs or good ideas.

 

4.      UNITY AROUND RELATIONSHIPS, NOT ROLES

 

There are various roles in church, that’s normal. We have a team for worship, greeting people, car park, admin, etc. you can serve, you can be part of the team, and still not be in unity.

 

You are far better to build a team around relationships.

 

1 Peter 3:8 (ESV Strong’s)

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

 

In other words, make relationships and make them count. Performances, programs and players will pass, but people will last.

 

THE LORD BESTOWS A BLESSING

 

We’ve talked about the oil, the flow of the Holy Spirit, reaching right to the hem of Aaron’s garment, so let’s wrap things up. Unity is also described as,

 

Psalms 133:3 (ESV Strong’s)

It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!

For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.

 

Mount Hermon is the largest mountain in Israel. It is almost constantly green, because of rain, snow and a heavy dew that happens almost all year round.

 

And unity is like that. It is refreshing like a heavy dew. It makes things clean and fresh. As the oil of the Holy Spirit flows, it refreshes, it blesses, it brings life. Unity brings life and blessing in a way far beyond the absence of conflict.

 

When David says the Lord bestows a blessing, he uses the word braka, which means blessing, prosperity and it’s even the same word for pool. The idea is not a little bit of sprinkling but a lavish, overflowing outpouring of blessing. The same word is used for blessing in this passage…

 

Malachi 3:10 (ESV Strong’s)

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing (braka) until there is no more need.

 

IT’S TIME FOR A DRENCHING, NOT A QUENCHING

 

We mostly have unity at Ignite, so I’m not aiming this message at anyone, I’m calling us all to a fresh commitment to unity and each other as a family. If we put our preferences and opinions aside and just live in unity and if we continue to zealously guard unity we will see an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will transform our community.

 

Not small drips, not a little puddle but an overwhelming flood of Holy Spirit power and anointing.  An anointing that leads to salvation, and the people of God living in victory and power.

 

And all this is the outflow, not of programs, or arguing doctrine, not of great preaching or cool worship or building extensions and more toilets.

 

It’s all down to unity. In 2020 it’s time to put our differences aside and really seek God in unity, because what unites us is greater than what divides us. We have a destiny here at Ignite, and God is calling us to unite and move into it in 2020.

 

In Jesus’ high priestly prayer of John 17 we see the call to unity. In Ephesians 4 Paul calls a divided, fighting church to unity. He knows we have differences of opinion and doctrine and beliefs, but when we let those things reign, when we let those preferences and opinions divide us, were not being scriptural or godly at all, no matter how many verses you use to support your position. We are favouring a preference over the God given principle of unity.

 

If we so doggedly hold to our preferences, if we love our opinions more than we love others, we’re not being godly or scriptural or righteous… we are being sinful, and quenching the Holy Spirit, the flow of which only truly happens when we stand together united as one. Listen to what Paul said,

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 (ESV Strong’s)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

 

The Greek word for quench is sbennymi, which does not mean quench as in quench your thirst, but means to extinguish, to snuff out, to stifle and limit what God wants to do.

 

I don’t believe anyone here sets out to do that, but we must be careful not to let our preferences and opinions extinguish God’s will as collateral damage.

 

1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV Strong’s)

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

 

If we doggedly fight for our own particular pet verse, then frankly we are disobeying that verse, so how scriptural are we really?

 

So this morning as I wrap up this series on unity in 2020, I want to simply call you to stand with us, for each other, for your church family, for our community and for our nation. This means turning up for church, doing the Bible plan, putting up with each other and standing as one in the arms of the Lord because we are better together.

 

So whose in with me? I want more of God, I want to serve Him more and see His power in my life to greater and greater effect. Remember the sticks… we are better together!

 

Who is with me to obey Paul when he commands us to be

 

Ephesians 4:3 (ESV Strong’s)

eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

About Darin

Pastor Darin Browne is the Senior Pastor of Coast Church in Woombye, Queensland. He is an international speaker and worship leader and has toured all over the world, produced 8 albums and authored several books.