Love Changes Things

In heaven we’ll be part of one harmonious community. So why aren’t we now? As God’s children we need to practice love, acceptance, and forgiveness toward one another.

Love changes things—including the church—even in the face of the fact that the church doesn’t always reflect the spirit of love God desires of us.

In heaven we’ll be part of one harmonious community. So why aren’t we now? As God’s children we need to practice love, acceptance, and forgiveness toward one another. This is God’s desire for the church.

Do you know everyday sorts of things about the other members of your church? Do you know their favorite hobbies? What country they wish they could visit or have visited? What they are looking forward to the most in heaven? You might be surprised to find out that you have a lot in common with some members and don’t even know it. Is it possible that as a church we have many other areas in common that can strengthen unity?

Read Genesis 11:1-4. This story is an example of the misuse of community. What are other examples of the misuse of community in churches?

  • People banding together to criticize the pastor
  • A handful of people thinking that they should run the church
  • Social cliques based on status
  • Members feeling they’re not valued, resulting in them staying away
  • Gossiping among members about fellow members

 

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. If we as a church followed these words, we’d have strong unity. What can we learn about our church from this text?

  • No one is better than another, regardless of social status or money.
  • We need each person,—no matter how small the contribution—to be a whole church body.
  • We should never imply to another member that he or she isn’t valued and needed.
  • God appoints our positions according to our spiritual gifts and talents.
  • It’s too idealistic for a church to operate like a body.

 

Read Ephesians 4:1-13. As members of the church body, are we all held accountable for anything? What’s our responsibility?

  • I don’t want to be so involved; I’d rather just attend once a week and then go home.
  • We need to be humble, not thinking of ourselves as better than another member.
  • We need to be patient and gentle with new members and ones who are set in their ways.
  • We need to make every effort to keep unity, which might mean admitting our shortcomings.
  • We’re all needed to reach our full potential as a church.

 

Read 1 Peter 2:9, 10. How does this text bring us—different individuals with different backgrounds—into one family?

  • We’re all children of the same God, yet sometimes we act like enemies.
  • Unity is attractive when we show the world that Christians don’t have to agree on everything.
  • We don’t have to have the same color of skin to be family; which is attractive to young adults.
  • We’ll be unified in heaven, so we might as well start now.
  • Complete unity isn’t necessary. We just need to be respectful to each other.

 

Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. If the opportunity arises, share your solution with someone else in your study group.

Option 1: Do you have an idea what factor might be keeping your church from being fully unified? Do you have any ideas that might help with the situation? Make a plan.

Option 2: Write down the positive things that unify your church now. Share these
encouraging thoughts with the congregation. You might put it into an open letter to the church to be posted where all can read it. There is great value in such encouragement.

Option 3: Be unified as a congregation and plan a way to show God’s love to your community. Make a plan, promote it well, and celebrate your success.*


* Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.