• Download

“The Church Thrives by Focusing on Unity.”

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

In 1858, then Senator Abraham Lincoln speaking of America said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Of course, Abraham Lincoln didn’t come up with that himself. He was quoting the Bible. Jesus said in Matthew 12:25, “Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.”

You see, church: in order for the church to thrive, we must be united. If we are not united, we cannot stand.

We’re continuing our series called, “How Does the Church Thrive?” Today’s sermon is, “The Church Thrives by Focusing on Unity.”

Churches lose their focus when they are not united. Churches lose their witness when they are not united. Churches lose their effectiveness when they are not united. Some churches will even shut their doors when they are not united.

So, we need to be afraid of losing our unity as a church. We need to consider disunity the enemy of the church.

So, let us embrace three characteristics that will help us be a united church.

Before we do, let’s go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to speak to us.


Ok, let us consider these three characteristics that we can strive towards to develop unity.

First, . . .

I. We are united through holiness.

Holiness makes us more like God and being more like God makes us more united.

A lack of holiness hurts the unity of the church. Sin will lead to disunity. Evil will lead to disunity. Being less like God will make us less united.

When the people of God are holy, we will be united.

Listen to what Peter said about this in 1 Peter 2:9-119 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises, of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul.

Church, we are to be a holy people. We were once not God’s people but now we are God’s people. We belong to Him! So, we are to abstain from sinful desires and we are to pursue holiness.

Paul speaks to this as well in Titus 2:14. Paul says, “He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works.”

Jesus gave His life for us to redeem (or buy us back) from lawlessness and sin. In doing so, He cleansed us and made us a people for Himself.

Did you catch that? We are not merely individuals, we are a people, united in holiness for Jesus!

Listen, Christian: you are to be holy because Jesus gave His life to clean you up and bring you into a united people who are collectively seeking to be like Him!

Did you know that one of the ways we are united is by calling each other to holiness? We do this when we help each other see when we are in sin, call each other to repentance, and turn from our sin and turn to Jesus.

Listen to what Paul says about this reality in Galatians 6:1“Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted.”

If we love each other, if we are a united people under Jesus, we are to gently call each other to turn from wrongdoing.

We don’t do this with an arrogant spirit or a “holier than thou” spirit. Rather, we do so with a gentle spirit.

Also, while we call others to repentance, we’re supposed to keep one eye on ourselves so that we don’t sin as well.

What a beautiful thing this is: individuals who compose the church of Jesus, the people of God, who are watching each other’s backs when it comes to turning away from sin and turning to holiness.

This pursuit of holiness is God’s design for the church and is God’s design for unity in the church.

First, we are united through holiness.

Second, . . .

II. We are united through humility.

If it were not for the tremendous importance of holiness I would say that humility is the most important ingredient for unity. So, I’ll step out there and say that humility is the second most important ingredient for unity.

There is perhaps no passage more helpful when it comes to understanding humility than what Paul has to say in Philippians 2. Paul says, in Philippians 2:3-8“3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others. 5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.”

In this passage, Paul lays out a few steps when it comes to humility.

First, he gives us the command. This is what we are to do – “ . . . in humility consider others . . .”

Second, he gives us the clarification. This is how we are to do it. – “ . . . more important than yourselves.”

Third, he gives us the example. This is who we are to model – “ . . . the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.”

Finally, he gives us the extent. This is how far we should go – “ . . . he emptied himself . . . to the point of death . . .”

So, this is our call to unity: consider others with humility, consider them more important than yourself, be humble like Jesus was humble, and remember Jesus was humble to the point of death.

If that’s not enough to lead us to believe that we need to seek humility, we need to check our spiritual heartbeat.

Listen to what Peter adds in 1 Peter 5:5“ . . . All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Peter says, all of you in the church, cover yourself in humility. Isn’t that awesome? We should desire to be clothed with humility. We should desire to be more like Jesus.

Do you ever put a soft blanket in the dryer and pull that out and lay down on the couch with it. What do you do with it? You cover yourself with that warm blanket and take it in. You love clothing yourself with it. In the same way, embrace humility like a warm blanket. Cover yourself in humility.

What will happen if each of us pursues humility? What happens if each of us looks out for the interest of others? Then we will begin to develop unity.

When we are selfish and we only look out for our own interests, then we develop individualism and disunity. We tear the body of Christ apart when we are selfish.

Notice what happens if you don’t pursue humility; notice what happens if you are proud and selfish. Peter says that God will resist you.

Do you want to be resisted by God? Do you want God to be against you? If so, be selfish and proud. Then God will be against you.

Do you want God to give you grace? Be selfless and humble.

When it comes to humility, let Romans 12:16 put the cherry on top. Paul says, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”

Well, there you go: live in harmony, don’t be proud, hang out with those who are humble, and don’t think too much of yourself. That’s good instruction for us all.

We are united through humility.

Finally, . . .

III. We are united through helping.

In order to be a united church, we must be committed to helping one another.

Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 23:11“11 The greatest among you will be your servant.”

Do you want to be great in the eyes of Jesus? Be a servant to others.

If the church is serving and helping each other, we will be united, and nothing will be able to stop us if we are united!

You may remember the famous passage from Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14. Paul says, “12 For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all given one Spirit to drink. 14 Indeed, the body is not one part but many.”

God has designed the church so that each of us will contribute to the good of the church. When we contribute through giving, serving, and loving each other we are helping each other and we are helping the church as a whole.

The church is one body but not one part. It is many parts! So, do your part to help.

Be a part of the body who sacrificially gives tithes and offerings to the vision of our church.

Be a part of the body who faithfully serves others by using the gifts God has given you.

Be a part of the body by encouraging others and praying for them.

Help others and help the church by doing your part.

When all of us are helping each other and the church as a whole, it brings us together with a common focus on the good of the church and the vision God has given us; it brings us together in unity.

Let this bottom line summarize what God is teaching us today:

Bottom Line: Unity is the glue that binds the thriving church together.

If we want to thrive as a church, we must be united. We must fight for unity!

If you’re ever in an intersection and you see someone pushing a car that isn’t running, what do you do if you are physically able? You help them push. The next thing you know, someone else jumps in and helps push. Eventually, that car starts rolling with lots of momentum. What was enormously difficult with one person becomes easy with many people coming together in unity.

Unity is a beautiful God-given gift for the church given to strengthen the church to better accomplish God’s mission for the church.

Unity is the glue that binds the thriving church together.

The church thrives by focusing on unity.

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge #1 – Identify one potential obstacle for unity in your life.

When it comes to our church and the way we do things is there an obstacle in your life that you need to deal with?

Perhaps there is a matter of holiness that you need to address. Maybe you need to repent of a certain sin that is tearing you apart and holding back our church.

Perhaps there is a selfish behavior or desire you have that needs to be removed. Maybe you want your preferences to rule in the church. Challenge yourself to remove that selfishness.

Perhaps you are not invested in helping the church because your biggest concern in your life is yourself and your time, rather than helping others.

Identify one potential obstacle for unity that you can remove.

Weekly Challenge #2 – Identify one step you can take to fuel unity in our church.

Perhaps you can pursue holiness more. Maybe you can pray for God to show you your sin and seek to repent and turn away from that sin.

Perhaps you can pursue humility more. Maybe when it comes to church you are more concerned with your preferences and the way you think things should be done.

Perhaps you need to commit to help others in some way. Maybe you need to be more generous in your giving. Maybe you need to be more sacrificial in your serving. Maybe you need to be more powerful in your prayer.

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: The text contained in this sermon is solely owned by its author. The reproduction, or distribution of this message, or any portion of it, should include the author’s name. The author intends to provide free resources in order to inspire believers and to assist preachers and teachers in Kingdom work.