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Church unity in divided times

Steve Gregg

In the book of Acts, one of the first challenges to the church was tension between the Hellenistic Jewish members and the rest of the church. The Hellenistic Jewish members had grown up in a largely Gentile culture and spoke primarily Greek. When the apostles heard about the tensions, they appointed godly folks from among the Hellenistic members to address the issue and to preserve the unity of the church. The results of dealing with this issue well and in a way that preserved unity in the church had the result of spurring the growth of the church and the spread of the Gospel.

Seeing that one of the very first issues the church had to deal with came out of ethnic tensions, it shouldn't surprise us that similar issues still arise in the church today. Several years ago, the elders at Creekside decided to ask some of our members to form a team to meet, discuss and pray in the hopes of growing and strengthening our unity at Creekside, particularly in areas where there are cultural or ethnic differences. Recently that team helped to lead a Sundays @ 9 class looking at Daniel J Hays’ book, “From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race.” The five-week class went well, and below is some of the feedback we’ve gotten. 

  • “I was encouraged to learn that there is a living example that demonstrates the teaching that all races and ethnic groups are equivalent in the eyes of God. The reality is that within Christ’s body (the church), members from every background are organically joined together in the Spirit to be one in such a way that their mutual love for each other would testify to the world that God sent Jesus to be the savior of the world.”

  • “I learned to ask better questions and in a more respectful and kind manner. I also made some new friends in class. Discussion brought out the point that churches should be natural places for diversity. I also never thought or even realized the ethnic diversity in the Bible.”

  • It was very helpful to hear what “couples in our church, Tatiana and Colson, Bob and Ellen, John Paul and Joelle, and Jeremy and Marilyn said about their experiences" in a society where they were in the minority.     

We’re grateful that the Lord continues to bring us brothers and sisters from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Not only are they gifts to us in what they bring to the church family, but when we succeed in loving each other well and preserving our unity, it is a powerful picture of and argument for the Gospel. We are confident that as we grow in our love for each other, the power of God’s good news will be even more evident. Please pray for our unity as a church family, for us to grow in loving each other well and for Creekside to be a sweet witness to the power of the Gospel to make us one in Christ.