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INTRODUCTION

Unity is necessary and is needed in every sphere

of life. If at all human beings want to make

meaningful progress in anything unity must be sought after. The world is divided religiously. All the

religions of the world claim to serve one God. Unity therefore is a virtue that is preached as a

command to agree to God’s ONENESS. Severally, people who come to a cross road make efforts to

resolve differences in order to achieve their objectives. Therefore, there is that benefit of growth

through unity. Some Congregations are divided because of arguments like: having the Lord’s Table in

the morning or evening, singing choruses only, using hymn book alone, walking while gathering

collection of the saints, the pulpit should be of the same level with the pew, when to pray and fast as

a Church, and so on. Unity is threatened in some Congregations of the Lord’s Church. There is no

doubt that unity is a force to reckon with when it comes to ensuring Church growth. God hates

division among HIS People. And Paul asked, “Is Christ divided?” [1 Cor. 1:10-17]. In one hand, this

lesson is to call Christians to reexamine God desires for orderliness and decency in the church [1 Cor.

14:33, 40]. On other hand, the lesson is to provoke Christians to see the significant of unity in

Church growth.

 

AIM OF THE LESSON

It is expected and believed that at the end of this lesson, brethren will:

  • Be committed to the works of unity
  • Be cautious of the dangers of disunity and
  • Bring the world to the faith in Christ.

 

DEFINITION OF TERMS

Unity (Uncountable noun): Is the state or fact of being one undivided entity. This simply means

ONENESS.

Force (Uncountable noun): is anything that is able to make a change or impact in a person or

thing. Therefore, unity is supposed to make change or impact by way of Church growth.

Church (Uncountable noun): Is not a house but a group of people who in obedience to the

Gospel have been called from the world.  Such people are nurtured to build a belief system and a way

of life according to the Words of God different from what they had before. They worship God where

is referred to as Church hall, auditorium and building. Therefore, these people are expected to be

unity under the name Church [11:25-26]

Growth (Plural growths): Is an increase in size, number, value or strength. It also means the act

of growing, getting bigger or higher. Growth is synonyms with enlargement, expansion and

increment. An act of growing is what is called development or maturation. Therefore, the Church

being a living organism is supposed to grow in ramifications [Acts 5:14; 6:1-7]

Church growth: On the other hand, Church growth connotes an increase in size, number, value

and strength of the Church. This pertains to numerical increase in membership and other aspects

like eldership administration, established other congregations, increase in collections and expansion

of the place of worship

 

THE CONCEPT OF UNITY

Unity was phenomenal in the Heart of GOD before creating human beings in the first place. The

writer of the Book of Genesis reported that, “Then God said, ” Let us make man in our image, in our

likeness,…..” [Gen.2:26]. After the creation of Adam and Eve, God mandated the man and woman “to

be fruitful and multiply”. It was at the couples’ unity that brought about multiplication of human

beings on earth. Therefore, in unity there is expectancy of growth and development [Gen.1:28].

Unfortunately, Genesis 11:1-9 narrated men’s Ill intention for their unity. God scattering them at that

time have not altered the Initial Plan of God for unity. Jesus was sent to reconcile [unite] everything

back to God. This we can see in His prayer as recorded by John 17:20-26. The gifts of the Holy Spirit

to His disciples was intended to achieve the unity of the Church.

In today’s world we heard people talk about conflict resolution. The aim is to ensure peace and

co-existence amongst people of the world. Peace is one of the elements of unity. The Bible teaches

Christians to make every effort to live in peace with one another. The story is told in the Book of

Genesis about Abraham who conceded to his nephew Lot over an area that was no more considered

fertile for animal grazing. There was a problem that would have caused disaffection and disunity

between Lot and his uncle. Abraham stepped in to resolve the problem. Genesis13:5-12 reads thus,

“But Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.

6 Now the land was not able to nourish and support them so they could dwell together, for their

possessions were too great for them to live together.

7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle. And

the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land [making fodder more difficult to

obtain].

8 So Abram said to Lot, Let there be no strife, I beg of you, between you and me, or between your

herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are relatives.

9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself, I beg of you, from me. If you take the left

hand, then I will go to the right; or if you choose the right hand, then I will go to the left.

10 And Lot looked and saw that everywhere the Jordan Valley was well watered. Before the Lord

destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, [it was all] like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as

you go to Zoar.

11 Then Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley and [he] traveled east. So they separated.

12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the [Jordan] Valley and moved

his tent as far as Sodom and dwelt there [Amplifier Bible version].

In another Bible narrative, it is mentioned that Moses developed dislike towards the Egyptians

because of the way they treated the Hebrews. Moses is said to have killed and secretly buried an

Egyptian who malhandled one of his kind men. However, Moses thought his action was brotherly.

But to his shock another time came when he sought to unite two Hebrews fighting and he was

queried to know who made him a leader over them? [Exodus 2:11-15]. Obviously, one of the cardinal

responsibilities of the leaders is to push for unity at all times and at all cost.

The work of the prophets in the Old Testament was to reunite the children of Israel to GOD.

Israelites were like chicks that went stray/scattering all over like sheep without Shepherd. Therefore,

God used the prophets as HIS Mouth Piece to announce HIS Love to unite them back for the

Covenant HE made with their forefathers.

In the New Testament the Apostles at different occasions emphasis is laid on the relevance of unity

as taught and preached by Jesus the Prince of Peace HIMSELF. Jesus before He left the earth prayed

 

WHY UNITY?

Would be any reason why the Church should talk about unity? However, when Christians seek

parameters to measure a growing Church, unity is central in measuring Church growth. In efforts to

describe the significance of unity, Psalmist observed to say, “BEHOLD, how good and how pleasant it

is for brethren to dwell together in unity”. ACTS 2:41-47 describes how united the Early Church was.

This among other narratives in the History Book of the Church by the Apostles paints the picture of

Church growth in the first century Church. Some of us today can also testify about what happened

when the Gospel of Jesus came to us in the 50’s and the after the Nigerian Civil war. This period was

characterized by Church planting or establishment otherwise Church growth.

Therefore, the following points are considered as reasons for why unity is significant:

  • Unity is a proof of Christ Headship to the Church in different Congregations as it would
  • Unity enhances participation of all members in worship
  • Unity creates conducive atmosphere for worship and other Church activities
  • Unity allows for co-existence amongst members and non members
  • Unity permits expression of oneself at Church Meetings
  • Unity encourages contribution of the saints and freewill donations to meet the obligations of the Church
  • Unity seeks to strengthen relationships with sister Congregations in the light of One Body- the Church
  • Unity ensures rebuking false teachers and their teachings/doctrines
  • Unity promotes the Spirit of Team Work in Church leadership
  • Unity encourages the Spirit of Oneness in evangelizing the world
  • Unity stimulates regular attendance to Church activities
  • Unity beautifies as well as magnifies the doctrine of; one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father.

WHAT LACK OF UNITY MAY CAUSE

People can state how dangerous for any Congregation to slide away from unity. Division is opposite

of unity. It can also be regarded as a by- product of lack of unity. Lack of unity or disunity has caused

lots of setbacks in individuals and group of individuals. For instance, Israelites divided because

Rehoboam forsook the councils of the old men to that the youth [l Kings 12:16]. Today “To your tents

oh Israel” is a common exclamation that get people part ways. Of course, Israelites suffered a great

deal as divided Kingdoms. Imagine a family divided over a father. Some Congregations also have

been torn apart by some members because of not seeing and not wanting to do things in the way

Christ commanded His Apostles. Some congregations in the 21st Century have failed to follow the

doctrines and practices of the 1st century Church.

The fact remains that Jesus Christ died to completely reconciled all things back to GOD [Col.2:19-20

see Gen. 6:6-8]. By implication, the sacrifice was to unify the Church.  Many a time, trival things

generate disputes, misunderstandings and arguments which scatter Church worship, Church

Business Meetings and other Church activities. Lack of unity can mar the image of the Church to the

society. Of course, that may hinder the work of soul winning and by extension affects Church growth.

Therefore, lack of unity [disunity or divisions] is counter productive. Church growth is obstructed.

Progress can not strive well where unity is in lack. However, Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians

Church is a typical illustration of lack of unity in a Congregation. What happens when there is lack of

unity is expressed in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. Division is clearly branded a sin Galatians 5:19-21. Out of

the 15 items listed as ” works if the flesh” eight have to do with those things that create disharmony

or describe division among people: enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,

envy. Lack of unity is caused when people are following the flesh and not the spirit. When Christians

allow nationality, colour, social status, culture, economic and political doctrines, educational

attainments, or personal differences keep them apart, unity can be compromised or jeopardized. We

have heard and seen how brethren fought over when to partake on the Lord’s Table. Beloved

brethren, one can say that, lack of unity may be best described as a CALAMITY.

 

CHURCH GROWTH AS ATTRIBUTED TO UNITY.

Specifically, the umbrella benefits of unity are interpreted through the desired Church growth.

Christianity is based on having the same divine spirit as well as attaining the goal of One Body by

Christ Headship  [1 Cor. 12:13]. Church growth can be evaluated spiritually and physically.

For Church growth, the following points are attributed to unity:

  • CHRIST Jesus is regarded as the central THEME of the Church – THE GOSPEL [1 Cor.15]
  • One voice of common worship [Rom. 15:6-7]
  • Pursuing peace is admonished as an attitude [Eph.4:3, Phil.4:2]
  • Benevolence [Charity] is practiced as a way of life [Gal.6:10]
  • Expression of joy in worship and in other Church activities [1Pet.1:8; Jude 24]
  • Meeting spiritual needs of different groups persons in the Church [Titus 2]
  • Discussing issues in the light of Love and Truth [ Eph.4:15]
  • Settling disputes between members amicably. Individuals rights are let go for the sake of Christ [Phil.2:1-4, Col.3:5-15 ]
  • Embarking on projects that be fit the Church
  • Choosing administrative style that is reverencing to God
  • Division of any manner is a taboo [1 Cor.1:10-17; Gal. 5:19-21]

Therefore, Church growth can be seen through all aforementioned points among others. [FOR

FURTHER READINGS Ephesians 4:4-6, 11-13, Philippians 2:1-4 and Colossians 2:2-5]

 

CONCLUSION AND EXHORTATION

Obviously, nobody can really deny the fact that there is dire need to protect our unity. If Jesus can

pray for our unity, it will be a gross negligence for His disciples to fail to see relevance of promoting

the unity. Psalms 133:1 illustrates how beautiful and adorable when brethren gather together.

Therefore, “BEHOLD, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”. The

application of unity: a force for Church growth to the daily Christian life and Congregational

activities of believers requires certain attitudes and actions. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or

conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves…..” Phil.2:1-4]. Therefore, every

Christian must strive to keep the spirit of unity at all course. Let’s learn from the story of a father

who used three bonded cords to demonstrate the strength of unity to his children.

 

GOD BLESS THE CHURCH  IN JESUS, AMEN.

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UYO TOWN CHURCH OF CHRIST, 20 PAUL BASSEY STREET, UYO

INDOOR LECTURE FOR OCTOBER, 2018

PRESENTED BY BRO. AKANINYENE D. AKPAN (MIN.)