In our blog yesterday we were seeing that thanking the Lord for all our brothers and sisters can be a great antidote to any sense of being better than others in other groups and churches, even though I don’t see everything as they do, and in fact I may find some of their practices and emphases don’t fit with mine at all. I am thinking that the Lord wants us to be so genuine in our thanksgiving for others that we can go even further in creating that ‘unity of spirit through the bond of peace’. Ephesians 4:3.
When Paul was in prison there was a situation where he believed that other Christians around were preaching ‘out of envy, rivalry…. selfish ambition, and not out of love or goodwill….not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains’. Even so he manages to rejoice in this circumstance because he writes, ‘whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached’. Philippians 1:15.
So for us today with all our different denominations and expressions of Christianity, it can be a challenge to thank God for other Christians who worship in a different way to me, or who have a different emphasis in their ministry or church life; but something powerful happens in the spiritual realm when we do.
In the Message 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 reads like this- ‘Remember our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives’.
I was once at a meeting of leaders from a few different churches in the area and I had, what I believed then, and still do believe, was a very powerful word from the Lord about unity. I felt that He was telling us that if each church community prayed for a greater blessing on their neighbouring churches than that which they prayed for themselves, great blessing would be released on the area.
In our Christian communities we can rightly spend time praying for the Lord to bless and use us, but this was about preferring one another in love and asking for the greater measure for the other Christian communities around us too. The picture in my mind’s eye was of fire going from one church to another as the Lord blessed in response to our prayers for each other’s churches.
I might not find the other ‘unadorned clay pots’ that the Lord has put His glory in quite to my liking, but I can still thank God that the treasure is there, and pray that the glory of that treasure will shine through. So next time that you are in a meeting to pray for the work of your church, ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind other fellowships that are around you in your area. Then as you thank God that they are there alongside your church group, ask Him what you can pray for them to bless them so that His glory shines through, increasing their effectiveness, their ability to share the gospel and to bless the community.
I believe the Lord is longing for us all to pray and look for great blessing on the other groups and fellowships around us. That is unity in the spirit, and it is when he sees unity remember, that He will command the blessing. Psalm 133:3.