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Thursday, June 29, 2006

"Living In Unity"

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1).

Each summer there is a huge Christian music festival in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, although due to heavy rains we've had in our area this year it has been cancelled.  Brooksyne and I, along with many from our church in northern PA, used to attend in the eighties when we were young, but there came a point in our lives that camping out in tents, using port-a-potties, and dealing with tens of thousands of people in an outdoor setting lost its appeal!

We had planted the church right after graduating from Bible College in the late seventies so we had a young congregation.  I've always had a sense of humor and when you're younger you tend to be a bit more daring in expressing yourself.  I sure was!  Brooksyne is relieved that I've matured a bit in this area (of course there is still the "little boy" in me that I'm afraid is there to stay, no matter what how old I grow.)

I suggested that a group of us have our picture taken as if we were all going to use the porta-potty at the same time and humorously use it to illustrate church unity. We initially placed the photo up on a bulletin board with the inscription, "We do things together at AGAPE" (the name of the church).

Church unity

If only maintaining unity was that easy!  But we know it's not. During my 25 years in pastoral ministry I sure recall the times (thankfully few) when division hit the church. Let me tell you, it's especially hard for the pastor.  But thankfully I have many memories of unity and cooperation as well.

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" That is sure true whether it be a family or a church.

One of the greatest ways we honor our human parents is when we get along with our siblings. Even though Mom and Dad are both with Jesus I still believe this is a way we honor them.  Today my brother is traveling with my family to a reunion in Door County Wisconsin.  I stay in touch regularly with my older brother and younger sister as well.

I also believe unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ is a way I honor my heavenly Father and His family. 

Today in your sphere of influence I appeal to you to make every effort to pursue spiritual unity. "Live in harmony with one another" (Romans 12:16).  "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18).  

I have a perspective in life that increasingly sees the long-term blessing of unity in my marriage, family and relationships.  May that be your blessing as well!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Brooksyne's prayer: Jesus, we want to thank You for diversity in the body of Christ.  There is so much incredible variety in personalities, giftings, ethnicity, and varied interests.  But when we lift our hearts and voices together in worship to our Creator we see Christ only and His redemption for all humankind.  As we dwell together in unity You help us to become likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord.  Your work goes forward when we set aside our personal agenda, and for the sake of the body, focus on that which we have in common with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Lord, as much as it is possible, help me to be at peace with my church family and most especially the immediate and extended family You have blessed me with.

The above photo was taken in the early eighties at the Creation Festival near Mount Union PA. We have maintained fellowship with most all of these folks. One of my friends in the photo passed away about 10 years ago but we're still in contact with his wife and two daughters.  I wonder if you can find Brooksyne and me in the photo?

Psalm 133 is among the shortest chapters in the entire Bible.  Its theme is harmonious relationships. Here's the entire Psalm: "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore."

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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