This week we started looking at the foundational calling to be united; one of the most frequently repeated commands in the Bible related to church membership (participation) is the call to maintain unity with fellow believers. Because of unity's foundational place within church life, we will actually be spending two weeks looking at this topic.
Here are some questions and suggestions for further reflection this week...
Re-read the sermon text (Ephesians 4:1-2) and take an initial survey of what you notice - what jumps out at you? It's only two verses, but what do you find encouraging or challenging about these words? (FYI: verse 1 and the "life worthy of the calling" will become the central topic of another sermon in a couple weeks)
Since this sermon was really focused on four major actions that we are called to, to contribute to and support church unity, let's keep the focus there this week. The four actions are found in vs 2...
Humble = purposely putting yourself in a lower social/political position than those around you
Gentle = to be friendly/pleasant to be around
Patient = "long-suffering," willing to endure injustice or evil without seeking revenge/retribution
Bearing = literally: to put up with, tolerate
Re: humble...What are the challenges that you face on a regular basis that make this kind of humility difficult? How might you "reframe" humility as something society would view as a positive? How do you envision humility playing out in your involvement with Oak Hills Church?
Re: gentle...Who are some people you do/have known who you felt were genuinely "gentle"? What made them gentle - what characteristics and traits did they display in their interactions that led you to see them this way? Now be honest: how do you compare? What have others generally said about you? What habits could you develop or learn that could help either reinforce your own positives, or help you grow even more friendly and pleasant?
Re: patient...One of the most challenging traits to embody because it relates to our sense of justice. Give yourself a pat on the back and reflect on times and moments when you feel like you did well in the area of patience. Think about a current challenge you have with being patient...what if you did not fight back? What are you afraid would happen? What might that suggest about your faith and trust in God?
Re: bearing...Sometimes, at the end of day, we just have to accept who people are and what they're like. Chances are, there is someone in the church that you really struggle to get along with, feel comfortable around, or interact with. Ask God to help you see that person the way God sees them. Consider listing out the positives of that person and forcing yourself to shift your focus away from what you perceive to be their negatives.
Finally...Paul didn't write these things down just for us to have more information. He expected his readers to put them into practice. What will you commit to doing over the next few weeks in one or all of these areas to contribute even more to church unity?