A few weeks ago my wife and I received some life-coaching on how to have difficult conversations. Our coach asked us to answer three questions, first considering them separately and then discussing them together. What do I need? What do I think she needs? How are we going to move forward from this point so that our marriage wins? Having come through a time of strong differing opinions, mistrust, disagreements and discord among us at Trinity Church, that third question is the most important question that we should ask, answer and act upon. How are we going to move forward from this point so that our church wins? But it’s not only the church that must win. God must win! His glory must be displayed among us and his glory is displayed through our unity, demonstrated to the world by our love for one another.
Sunday night was a pivotal moment for our church family. We came together with nervous anticipation of what would happen as we moved toward a vote that would determine the course of our church. There was little to no felt or observable joy for the first hour of our meeting. Then came the time for us to worship in song together and everything changed. We were broken and thirsty for God. We had been called to repentance at the beginning of our meeting. Many bowed their heads, even took to their knees in small groups and began to confess our sins. Reminded of the psalmist’s words, I believe that call to repentance paved the way for God’s work of healing, restoring and strengthening love and unity among us to begin.
“If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.” (Psalms 66:18–19 ESV)
I came into the meeting, knowing that with a vote charged with strong differing opinions, there would be no short term win for us, actually for God, unless we unified under the Lord, Jesus Christ. And that’s what we did as we raised our voices to worship him together! That is what we must continue to do. Worship is the way forward from this point. After Paul called the Roman church to unity in chapter 14, he followed with his final plea.
“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. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5–7 ESV)
He turned people’s attention away from the disagreement to the main thing, the glory of God! The only way forward is to place God’s glory as our number one priority! Practically speaking, we need to live in harmony with one another. The beauty of harmony is that we’re not all singing the same melody, but all parts are working together to make one combined beautiful sound. Diversity is of utmost importance in the body of Christ, where unity is a beautiful display of the glory of God. Many different voices become one voice glorifying God! That unity flows out of our relationship with Christ – in other words, he orchestrates it. We’re just following his lead together. And so we are told to welcome one another, as Christ welcomed you. Elsewhere we are encouraged to forgive one another as the Lord forgave you. (Col. 3:13) Christ himself said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 ESV) He is our example and he is the one who will make it happen. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church;” (Colossians 1:17–18 NIV)
So let’s commit ourselves to worship God wholeheartedly, privately as we live each day, listening to his voice in prayer and in his Word, and corporately as we join together with one voice to glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! And let’s follow him wholeheartedly, even courageously, as he leads us in those times of worship. This is what gives God glory and this is the way forward!