Unity in the Church

Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

This past week I had the opportunity to go on a retreat with seven other pastors of various churches in the Renton area. I went with very little expectations as this was my first pastor’s retreat with people that I only knew through book clubs and prayer meetings. Over the course of the few days, we delved deep into pastoral theology and ministry philosophies, talking about various issues with the benefit of having no restrictions on time, as many of our conversations went deep into the night. I came to see the depth of knowledge and understanding that these men had of the Word, and the concern and care they held for their congregations. I was both humbled and encouraged by the ministries of these men in the city of Renton.
As I soaked in the fellowship of these fellow pastors, I recognized the beautiful truth of the breadth and depth of the ministry. Although many times I get lost in my bubble at our church, where I feel the burden of teaching and pastoring, I fail to recognize that there are other people that are fighting the good fight as well.

The thing about gathering a bunch of pastors together (especially pastors that are preaching every single Sunday) is that we all have a lot of opinions. What I experienced on this retreat was that differing opinions does not necessarily equate to disunity. Differing opinions gives opportunity to understanding. Differing opinions are welcome in the church because of our foundation, the Gospel of Christ, is shared.

The true danger of opinions is thinking that all our opinions are the right ones. My logic would say, “why else would you hold those opinions unless you thought they were right?” Yet the truth for all people is that some of our opinions are wrong. So inevitably, certain discussions will divulge into, “I’m right, and you are wrong.” But this should not be the case in the church.
Our goal is to live our lives, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We can do this because in the church, we all believe that Christ is Lord. We all believe that He died for our sins, and we all believe that He rose again. We are still free to hold our various opinions, but that should not lead to a break in fellowship and unity if we hold onto the essential doctrines of the gospel. This does not mean that we must spend time with everyone always, but rather it means that we support and love the church both locally and universally because of our shared love for the Lord.

The reality of the pastor’s retreat was that we all went our separate ways to our separate churches doing our separate ministries, and yet we are united by our shared belief in the Word of God who is Christ Jesus our Lord.

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