May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
Our unity exalts Jesus in the eyes of the world as the true Son of God sent from the Father— all his claims convincing, all his purposes desirable, all his promises inevitable. This was important enough to Jesus that he prayed for it. Do we? Do we share his passion? Or do we treat it as an option while giving ourselves to our own priorities? (Ray Ortlund)
What Coming to Church Is All About
One of the most compelling verses in the Bible goes like this: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Ps. 133:1). Don’t miss the significance of that simple observation.
The goodness and pleasantness of a church that worships in Gospel-forged solidarity is most certainly a beautiful sight to behold. Such a congregation is a gift from God to the world, magnifying His shalom, which He is pouring out on creation through the person and work of His Son. Simply put, the local church dwelling in unity is a visible hope of the new world God has promised. Or as author Ray Ortlund puts it, “It is a model home of the new neighborhood Christ is building for eternity.”
Therefore, we must gather earnestly and often. If we are going to make a lasting difference in the world today, our coming to church must be all about enjoying God together for a unified witness to the power of the Gospel. LifePoint’s gatherings glorify God when we strengthen one another to live all-out for Jesus. His mission advances through our delight in Christ. And God wants our delight to abound when He gathers us to worship Him. As one Body, we are to rejoice harmoniously in our living Head (cf. Col. 1:18, 2:19).
Praying Our Way into Greater Unity
But this kind of otherworldly unity does not happen by accident. We won’t stumble onto it. No, it must be sought in prayer. Jesus Himself modeled the reality that a joyful church is a unified church, and a unified church is a prayerful church (Jn. 17:6-13). Therefore, we must ask, How can we, as the people of LifePoint, pray our way into greater unity?
In Romans 15:5-6 (quoted above), the apostle Paul shows us the way. He dropped this prayer into his letter to the church at Rome to expose them to the reality that real unity comes from the Father, and accords with Christ, who prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn. 17:11). Moreover, this kind of God-given alliance bears the fruit of harmonious praise for the glory of God. It shows our bickering, partisan world that abiding unity is realized when hearts come alive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only His grace can produce the authentic, one-voice Christianity that Paul prayed for.
So as Sunday approaches, I encourage you to pray Romans 15:5-6 over our church. Open your Bible, read these verses aloud, and pray as the Holy Spirit directs, asking the Father to grant us the unity that accords with Christ for the glory of His name. He’ll open your eyes to glimpse the shalom-saturated world He has promised, in which His people—saints from every tribe, nation, and language—are gathered at His throne, singing, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:10). We’re just a prayer away from having our hearts consumed with the bright future that awaits all who walk by faith in Christ. So let’s press into it for all its worth, praying and acting in accordance with Romans 15:5-6. There’s no better way to look to the Lord’s Day.
Liturgy for Sunday, July 26, 2015:
Call to Worship:
One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. (Psalm 145:4-7)
Reading for Pastoral Prayer:
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:14-17)
Now to him who strengthens you according to the Gospel to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (based on Romans 16:25-27)