Last week I wrote about why unity is important. I looked at several scriptures in first Corinthians that described the price of division. I explained how division stunts our growth, ruins our witness, and causes God to resist us. Basically, I wrote about the results of division. This week I’ll write about the results of unity. We’ll start again in first Corinthians.
Unity Maximizes Our Impact
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. I Corinthians 12:14-20
Paul is using the illustration of a body to make a few simple points. First, he makes it clear that we are one Body in Christ. This is God’s design. Though we are different from one another because of our different gifts, we are still one Body and are meant to work together.
Secondly, we all need a each other. Just as all of the parts of a body need one another, so do the different parts of the Body of Christ. No part can say they are not needed (something smaller ministries often say) and no part can say they do not need the others (something larger ministries often say). As our bodies need all of our parts, so the Body of Christ needs every part.
When churches and ministries on campus truly embrace these truths, the leaders will come together in prayer an planning. How can it be otherwise? To function as one Body, we have to be in relationship with one another, learning about each others strengths and weaknesses, who is doing what/where, and prayerfully devising a common plan to reach the campus together – a plan that maximizes each of our gifts.
For far too long leaders have read these verses thinking of only their church or ministry. They’ve preached it and applied in their smaller contexts but never have never thought about the application of these truths for the whole Body of Christ on a campus or in a city. This is a grave error. Paul was writing to a church in a whole city, much larger than one ministry let alone one campus.
Unity Changes the Spiritual Climate
“… if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with 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 purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4
The essence of Biblical unity is humility. In a very real sense, Campus Renewal Ministries is not actually laboring to unite campus ministries. Rather, our aim is to grow humble relationships between leaders. We do this because humility attracts God’s presence. God opposes the proud, but draws near to the humble. It is the first condition God lists for revival. We must humble oursleves before God and before each other.
What is humility? Paul defines it in his letter to the Philippians. Humility is best practiced when we consider others more important than ourselves. Again, churches and ministries have preached these verses and tried to apply them to their communities but have failed to apply these truths between ministry lines.
Paul was writing a church in a city, asking that the entire Christian community in a city be “perfectly united in mind and thought.” Perfectly united! How? By growing in humility before one another. By considering one another above oneself. Do your campus ministries do this? We at Campus Renewal are convinced it is the key to seeing campuses transformed!
Justin Christopher is Campus Renewal Ministries’s National Campus Director and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Project and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.