Selah: Ben Helm

Wednesday
What is unity?
By: Ben Helm
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
When God created the universe He poured a little of Himself into everything He made, just like when we make something we pour a little bit of ourselves into our creations. This means that God exists in all things. All things are one under Him, all things are unified.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6
This realization begs the question, “If God is “…over all, through all, and in all,” then how can there be evil in the world if God is perfect and good?” The answer is love, and for true love to exist there has to be a choice. And for there to be a choice God has to take a step back to create a space for us and a chance for us to choose Him. Because if He chose to remain in all things fully, everything would be perfect, but there would be no real love. So to make this real love possible God has to remove Himself from our decisions which creates a space that He allows us to fill with either Him or sin. If we choose to fill this space He has given us with Him, then He enters back into that space making everything whole and good once more! But if we choose to fill that space with things of this world, we are stepping into that space in an attempt to take control of our own lives which never ends up the way we hope it does. The more we try to control our own lives by stepping into that space God gives us, the more pain and heartbreak we feel and the more we feel as if we are losing control.
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” Acts 4:32

“All the believers were together and had everything in common.” Acts 2:44
Our goal should be to be of one heart and mind (unified) with God individually and as a body of believers.

What do you choose to unify with that is of this world rather than of God?
In what areas of your life do you unify with God?
How can you be more unified to your body of believers?
What needs to change in your heart and in the hearts of others for unification to happen?
Find a friend or mentor to discuss thoughts on this topic. What did you learn after speaking to them?

Thursday:
Why do we need unity?
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2
If we fully seek God’s presence and His will for us while striving to show others the love Jesus shows us we will naturally be drawn into unity with both the church and with God Himself. Since God is love and all things are one under Him, we need unity to learn more about Him and grow closer to Him. It is a cycle that grows and improves itself. The closer we grow to God, the more we are led to unity and the more we are led to unity the closer we become to God. A by-product of this cycle is being filled with His true and perfect joy. We need unity because it helps us grow closer to God and it helps us learn how to be more like Him! Each individual is created unique which means they have a unique piece of God in them. The more pieces of God that are together in unity the more of Him we see. This is not to say that we do not have full access to all of God and all He has to offer, but rather we are parts of a whole that contribute to His image seen by the world. We are parts of the body.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:9-11

Who in your life loves others the way Jesus loves us? What is different between them and everybody else?
What does the beauty of unity tell you about who God /Jesus /Holy Spirit is and what He wants for you?
When was a time you experienced the pure joy that God Has for you?
In what ways are your actions and words inviting unity into your relationships? How are they inviting division?
Find a friend or mentor to discuss thoughts on this topic. What did you learn after speaking to them?

Friday:
How do we get unity?
Read: Colossians 3:12-14 and Philippians 2:1-9
Acquiring unity does not require us to adopt someone else’s opinion nor does it require that they conform to our opinions. This is a tricky thought because often times our opinions can feel like a foundational belief. We really have to ask ourselves “Am I speaking where the bible speaks and am being silent where it is silent? Or do I find myself having a lot to say in that silence?” When considering how different churches go about worship, or teaching, etc… choosing to interpret that silence differently is not wrong! What is wrong is choosing to condemn your brother for worshiping in a way that you disagree with. That is you trying to force your opinion on others. The concept of unity infers that differences are coming together. Unity is not uniformity in which every has the same opinions, styles, and preferences. Unity is different people with different (and potentially opposing) opinions coming together and choosing to bear with one another in love considering each other more significant than themselves (Phil. 2). It requires a choice to love, accept, (not necessarily agree with) and respect one another no matter what. If you think about it, its similar to a marriage. Choosing to love and fight for someone even if you disagree and argue, but you don’t let that insignificant bickering separate you.

Go back and reread the verses, but this time underline where it talks about what we need to do to be more like Jesus.
Now looking at what you’ve underlined, circle the things that you need to work on personally.
From the verses that you underlined make a list of the five most important things to focus on when seeking unity with God and our brothers and sisters.
How might the words you listed promote unity in your friend groups? What about in your family unit? What about in your church?
Think of some practical ways you can practice the virtues that you listed. (Ex. “valuing others above yourself” -> letting my sister sit in the front seat; lifting others up instead of bragging and drawing attention to myself)
What does it mean to be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” mentioned in Philippians 2:2?
What would change in the world today if the body of believers strived for what Paul talks about in Philippians 2:2?
Find a friend or mentor to discuss thoughts on this topic. What did you learn after speaking to them?

Saturday:
How do we keep unity?
Read: Ephesians 4:1-3, Colossians 3:13, and Romans 15:1-9
Notice how the word “bear” or “bearing” shows up in each passage. What do you think it means to bear with one another?

Looking at the passage from Ephesians how should we bear with each other?

Now looking at the passage from Romans, what do you think the differences are between “bearing with…”, “pleasing our neighbors…”, and “Accepting one another…”?

Think back to a time when you made the decision to keep the peace by de-escalating a conflict. Now think of a time when you decided to insight conflict or maybe just accept it. What was different about those situations?

What was different about your attitude/ mindset in those situations? What about your heart? Was Jesus your central focus in either of those situations?

Find a friend or mentor to discuss thoughts on this topic. What did you learn after speaking to them?
Monday:
What is the power of unity?
Read: Ephesians 4:11-16, 1 Corinthians 12: 24b- 26, and
1 Corinthians 13:13
Make a list of unique gifts or talents that you have that you can contribute to the body. (Ex. encouragement, planning, boldness, speaking, etc…)
Do you find yourself using this gift for peace, love, and unity… or do you find yourself using it for selfish gain and glory? How can you change that practically?
Underline the benefits and gifts God gives us when we are unified.
What do you think it means to “… attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”?
How can you use the unique abilities God has given you to help strengthen and honor the body of Christ?
What do you think is the strongest power we have as the body of Christ?
Find a friend or mentor to discuss thoughts on this topic. What did you learn after speaking to them?

Tuesday:
What is the goal of unity?
Read: Acts 2:42-47 and 1 Corinthians 13:3-13

Consider the passage from Acts. How is your church different from the church described?

Consider the passage from 1 Corinthians. In what ways does your church love as it is described in the text? Do you love in this way?

Consider both passages. In a sentence how would you say that the body of Christ as a whole should operate in the world today?

How can you do your part to make this a reality? Start small. Dream big.

Find a friend or mentor to discuss thoughts on this topic. What did you learn after speaking to them?

I pray that this selah week touched your heart and showed you how much the lack of unity caused by selfishness and a lack of love in the body of believers pains our creator. But more than that I pray that this study has been an avenue for God to challenge you, grow you, and increase your capacity to love. Hopefully, by now you are able to answer the title questions posed each day and that by answering those you have a better idea of how we can live a life that looks a little more like Jesus. May God bless you and reveal Himself to you as you continually seek Him.

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6

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