This week, we’ll explore examples of unity in Christ, even in challenging situations.
Monday – Psalm 86.11-13. The psalm is attributed to David. He expresses his heart’s desire, to live a life of integrity before God and others. He wants God’s priorities to be his. There is a tone of submission to God in his prayer. “Prayer is not only a plea for life, it is a submission of life” (Mays, Interpretation). Let’s ask the Lord today for an undivided heart, yielded to His will, especially as we interact with others.
Tuesday – Acts 11.22-24. Barnabas was known for being an encourager, but what encourages an encourager? In Antioch for a visit with believers, Barnabas is encouraged as he discovers that non-Jews (Gentiles) have also received the “good news about the Lord Jesus.” Let us be encouraged in our witness for Christ by those who are responding to Jesus’ gospel in our day!
Wednesday – Acts 15.5-8,11. It was a time of great excitement and also contention. The gospel was spreading by the Holy Spirit to Gentiles (non-Jews). Some Jewish believers who were Pharisees argued that the new Gentile believers needed to become like them in custom as a condition for salvation. So, are we saved by our own efforts at obedience or by God’s gift of grace? Peter clearly affirms that the common denominator for all believers is God’s grace in Jesus. In times of contention and disagreement, we find unity when we recall that we all need His saving grace.
Thursday – Acts 15.36-40. Here, Barnabas and Paul, longtime friends and partners in ministry, had a significant disagreement over John Mark’s presence on their missionary team. As a result, they took different paths in their ministry. However, they must have handled the disagreement in a spirit of unity under Christ, because later (2 Timothy 4.11), as Paul’s life and ministry nears the end, he requests that the same Mark be sent to help him. Pray today to allow the Holy Spirit to work good in difficult situations you face, submitting to the Lord in how you treat those with whom you disagree.
Friday – Galatians 2.11-13. Learning how to confront actions or attitudes that are contrary to Christ is a delicate and important task among his followers. Here, Peter caved under pressure to please certain staunch Jewish believers in the company of new Gentile believers. Christ had shown Peter (Acts 10) that he wanted no such barrier. The Gospel was for non-Jews, too! Yet, Peter acted in a hypocritical way and Paul confronted him about his behavior, not ignoring the problem. Peter apparently received the challenge in a spirit of submission to Christ, as there was no rift between the two, and the truth of the gospel was honored.
Saturday – Ephesians 4.3-4. “So, unity is a divine gift, but it must be cultivated, and cherished as Christians live together in harmonious relationships, forged by Christ’s reconciling work. We come together not to create unity, but to confess it” (Martin, Interpretation). What is our common bond together? One of the Holy Spirit’s roles is to build unity in Christ, under the Lordship of Christ. We submit to him. He unites us.