Two Scriptures that go along with this one are Romans 15:5, “May the God Who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.” and Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.” We are to actively endeavor to live at peace with one another…living in harmony as one collective body called the Church, of which Jesus Christ is the head. But unity and peace can be difficult to obtain, so what can we do? First, understand that the only person you can change is you. That’s why Hebrews 12:14 tells us that we should make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy. Or as the old song goes, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…”
The Greek word for fellowship is Koinonia. Now when we talk about fellowship or fellow-shipping together, our idea of it may be different from the true meaning. For many of us think of fellow-shipping together as fun social gatherings…where we mix and mingle, often with lots and lots of Potluck dishes, but little mention of God. But this word Koinonia has a much deeper and spiritual meaning. When as a Believer we learn to commune or share intimately with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ…it’s called Koinonia. And when the Body of Believers come together, it’s Koinonia when we share our love, faith, and encouragement with each other. For when we are truly fellow-shipping one with another, we are sharing what we have in common…our love and joy for the Lord.
As Jesus prayed for His disciples in John, He asked that “they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:11) Later in that Chapter as He went on to pray for all Believers, He said, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23) In other words, to reflect the unity and oneness between the Father and Son, as Believers, we need to be perfectly united also. You can’t show the world Jesus when your bad behavior towards others is just like the rest of the world.
In other words…if you have the love of Christ within you, demonstrate it! Paul calls us here to be like-minded…the Greek word for this meaning the activity represented involving the will, the affections, and the conscience. This unity involves coming together as a whole in decision-making, with morally right passions, and motives. For being like-minded is thinking the same thing for the good of all, not just a few. Yes, being like-minded takes work on the part of everyone. It calls us to be peacemakers, bridge-builders, and servants to all – for His sake and for His glory.
The Lord is asking you this same question today…”Do you believe this?” Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved? Do you believe that He died for your sins that you may have eternal life? Maybe you’ve never been confronted to make a decision for Jesus…or maybe you’ve been resisting the wooing of the Holy Spirit. Either way, believing is a commitment of mind, body and spirit. It’s the start of an intimate spiritual journey of faith, trust, and obedience. The Lord is asking you today, “Do you believe?”
Unity and mutual care for one another…that’s what the early Church did on a daily basis. With steadfastness and faithfulness to the Gospel, they walked out their lives in very practical but focused ways. They approached each day with open hands and open hearts…looking for needs and filling them. The early Church was centered around goodwill towards others…of encouragement and sharing…of loving one another. And the Lord added to their numbers daily. For people saw the Gospel being played out in front of them and they wanted what these Believers had. The world is still looking for that today…for care, and compassion…for love and acceptance. For the Church of the present has the same responsibility and opportunity to impact the world for Christ as the early Church did…maybe even more.
It tells us earlier in Acts that, “All the Believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2:44-45) This is how the early Church functioned…their inward focus was on unity and mutual care for one another. For they took the Lord’s charge to “Love one another” very seriously. And because of everyone’s personal commitment to “see a need, fill a need” …the early Church exploded. So I ask you, what would happen if all Believers committed to the “see a need, fill a need” directive…not waiting for someone else to do it, or thinking it’s only the Pastor’s responsibility? The early Church’s focus was on perfect unity and mutual care for one another…the Church today could only benefit from this same focus.
Peter and the other Believers with him couldn’t dispute what they witnessed in the house of Cornelius. The Holy Spirit was super-naturally poured out on the Gentiles while Peter was still mid-sentence, telling them about Jesus. Now Peter could have questioned this…”But Lord, these people are very different from us! We don’t have anything in common with them. They’re a different race and culture from us! Are You sure You know what You’re doing?” Sometimes, as fellow-Believers, we can find ourselves asking the same questions of those we find different from us. Yes, we may not share a lot…but we do have a common denominator…faith in Jesus Christ. Together we are one Body…one Church…united in our trust of our Savior…joined together eternally by our faith.