Real Hope. United in Hope.

Real Hope. United In Hope.  

Reference Devotional from You Version App. 

Unity Doesn’t Mean What You Think

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, all its many parts form one body- so it is with Christ.

How do you view the concept of ‘unity’? It’s a very powerful word, but one that can feel very diluted when it’s ‘sloganised’ and used as a cover-all for messages about peace and tolerance.

I enjoy digging into meanings when I read scripture. A quick web search will amplify a word’s intention and deepen my understanding of the Bible’s message.

The word unity means ‘The state of being united, or joined as a whole.’

It doesn’t speak to the bland uniformity of mind, belief, or character – but to the connection as one: a picture of things that were once isolated, removed, or broken linked up with what’s nearby. Like scattered magnets drawing toward a central point and clicking into place.

What is the goal of that togetherness and unity? What should we take away from the example of this scripture?  It’s for each part of the body to function in its unique purpose in support of the health of the whole.

A hand can be a hand, but united with the body it can enable touch, intimacy, friendship, and effort. An eye can see independently, but united with the body it can illuminate the direction of the entire collective.

Unity isn’t so much about ‘sameness’, it’s about using your unique contribution to serve everybody’s collective wellbeing. How can you do that today?

Written by LAURA BENNETT

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.”

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 NIV

blue and white abstract painting
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel

Day 2 

Unity In Truth Devotional

So Christ himself chose the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and the teachers to equip his people for works of service. This was done so that the body of Christ would be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God. We are to become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants: tossed back and forth by the waves, blown here and there by every wind of teaching, and led astray by the cunning craftiness and deceitful scheming of sinful people.

Life was simpler when we all knew right from wrong, hey? Now it seems everyone is right – and the truth is whatever they want it to be.

Standing in the checkout line, I found myself inwardly nodding in fervent support of the lamenting bargain hunters ahead of me. My mind drifted away to those simpler days when there was unanimous agreement on the right and wrong of things.

Halcyon days indeed. Right? Alas, no. From that very first moment when mankind fell for ‘another truth’ in the Garden of Eden, humanity has invested lifetimes into finding ‘truth’ on our own.

Today’s reading reminds us that generations have been tossed about by the waves and winds of the deceitful schemers.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, God is not merely asking for unity. He is equipping His people to come together. The truth Paul speaks of is a transformative one, drawing communities together, single-minded in developing their relationship with Christ.

While at times, it may feel like Truth is losing the battle, do not lose hope.

Unity isn’t so much about ‘sameness’, but rather, it’s about using your unique contribution to serve everybody’s collective well-being. How can you do that today?

Written by DWAYNE JEFFRIES

“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, And gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”

Ephesians 4:7-10 KJV

“And he has appointed some with grace to be apostles, and some with grace to be prophets, and some with grace to be evangelists, and some with grace to be pastors, and some with grace to be teachers. And their calling is to nurture and prepare all the holy believers to do their own works of ministry, and as they do this they will enlarge and build up the body of Christ. These grace ministries will function until we all attain oneness into the faith, until we all experience the fullness of what it means to know the Son of God, and finally we become one into a perfect man with the full dimensions of spiritual maturity and fully developed into the abundance of Christ. And then our immaturity will end! And we will not be easily shaken by trouble, nor led astray by novel teachings or by the false doctrines of deceivers who teach clever lies.”

Ephesians 4:11-14 TPT

sliced fruits on tray
Photo by Trang Doan

Day 3

Unity In Diversity

Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body, by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

In 2015, I visited America for a Church women’s conference. It was so different from what I was used to. It wasn’t the fact that there were so many different denominations represented, it was how the different denominations were free to express themselves in the manner they were used to. Some sat quietly, others waved flags or danced in the aisles, some lifted hands high in praise, while others stood with their eyes closed.  It was awe-inspiring because they did all this separately,  yet together, with hearts united with Him and with each other.

For me, I just wept:  here I was, witnessing the personality of God displayed through His children!  It was here, that I received a word in my spirit; ‘Unity in Diversity’- and that is a concept that I’ve carried ever since. Unity begins in our hearts. It comes from His Spirit, and it cannot be enforced by laws or religion that just produce conformity. The Apostle Paul used the metaphor of the body as he tried to share with the Corinthians the fundamental importance of unity in diversity in Christ. The various members of the body, controlled by a single will, work together for the same ends. This unity includes a common head – ‘Christ is the Head of the Church’.

To unite in hope in this hour is to understand that, though we may be so different, we have this in common – we love Jesus! We love Him, we desire to love His people and we all have the same Holy Spirit to lean on. The fruit that He bears in our lives helps us to be unified: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law’ (Galatians 5:22–23).

Written by HEIDI WYSMAN

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NIV

four men sitting on ground
Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Pexels.com

Day 4 

“Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.” (Romans 15:5)

If you consider your church family, how would you rate their level of ‘harmony’ with one another?

Unity is a tricky thing to achieve, especially in the church. We are a mix of people from many different backgrounds and experiences, ages, and stages. It can be hard to relate to one another. Some days we feel tired and just can’t be bothered striking up conversations. So often we let each other down or feel disappointed by others. We are human, stained by sin, and we live with many fractured relationships.

So often, we fail to live in harmony, yet we are called to show “family affection to one another with brotherly love” (Romans 12:10).

We need to ask ourselves: do we treat those in our church as if they were family? Do we see them as actual brothers and sisters, or just as people we see on a Sunday? Now then, I’m aware many siblings fight, but we are called to love. This takes time and effort. It involves investing in each other and making time for each other. We really do have the ultimate help in this: God has given us His Holy Spirit, which means that we are united together as His people (no matter how we might feel about each other). God is growing each and every one of us, daily, to be more like His Son. He walks with us and allows us to work toward harmony together, to have a united mind and voice.

What a wonderful opportunity to be a united people in such a divided world.

Written by SAM ROBINSON

“I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:14-16 NIV

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

Romans 12:9-16 NIV

Day 5

Invited To Be Included

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

Over a decade ago, I walked into a conference and found myself in a well-organized swirl of people from many different nations. The scene was breathtakingly beautiful, a taste of heaven. We had gathered with a unified hope-fueled dream of a world where everyone has the opportunity to hear about Jesus.

Our unity was that we were all followers of Jesus.

During this conference, we sat in table groups where each person at the table was from a different country. We discussed global and national issues on the challenges of sharing our  Christian faith. We had different perspectives and experiences, and that, at times, created dissonance.

Each day, we read scripture together and talked about our personal journeys. I noticed that these times of honest vulnerable sharing started to build friendships that turned our view of our cultural differences and diverse expressions of faith into something more interesting. There was less defensiveness in our discussions, and a sense of shared collaborative wisdom started to come forward.

One of the most moving sessions for me was during a collective prayer for the persecuted Christians in the world. As I began quietly praying, my new friend, who had told me about the gift of lament, started wailing and rocking, covering his head with a cloth. I felt startled as around the many tables others began to openly weep and wail. Tears rolled down my face too, but I couldn’t wail. I turned to my nearest equally startled friend and said ‘they are gifting us with the groaning we are too reserved to offer to God’. This was a wonderful gift and it reminded me that Christ loves His beautiful and diverse bride. There is nothing for me to overcome – I am simply invited to be included.

Written by KATH HENRY

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.””

John 12:26-32 NIV

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