We Value … Unity
Unity: Part of the Same Spiritual Family
This post is part of a six-part series, written by a leader within the convention, on our core values. Our core values show who we are and what motivates us.
Unity is a result of salvation. Through the work of God’s Spirit, we become part of the same spiritual family, with “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:5-6).
Subsequently, unity is a responsibility. Paul will exhort the Ephesians to make “every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3). Maintaining unity isn’t easy.
The end of October provided an illustration of these principles. I left the Annual Convention Meeting of the IBC and returned home to Naples, only to turn around and head off to meetings with an Italian association of churches. During the ACM, we had enjoyed an atmosphere of warmth (which was welcome given the unexpected cold temperature outside). The men and women of the IBC are like family. We look forward to getting together like cousins look forward to the holidays at Grandma’s house. There is a close bond and a high level of trust that allows us to get business done in an efficient manner. And, even better, the reports and decisions highlight what God is doing so that we leave encouraged and inspired. (The food isn’t bad, either!)
So having come from my IBC family, the contrast with the second group of churches could not have been more stark. I left the second series of meetings with people apologizing for what I had had to endure. Even there, decisions had been made with widespread support but not before we had to listen to member after member stand to voice his or her opinion, often without withholding an offensive word or an accusing tone of voice.
In both cases, there was an apparent unity as decisions were made. And this further illustrates that while we understand our part in God’s family in terms of unity, we also must see our role in making sure that diversity will not divide us.
In the closeness of relationship, unity is put to the test. And that’s why when unity shines, it becomes a testimony to outsiders that is difficult to deny or dismiss. Our value states as follows:
We value Unity. The unity of the Spirit among our churches exhibits the oneness of all believers in Christ. We will seek to work out differences that may arise because we believe the power of the Gospel to unite us is stronger than the power of our enemy to divide us. (John 17:20-23, Eph. 2:19-22)
Our mission to mobilize and multiply disciple-making churches requires unity. Unity will show others that we belong to Christ and to each other. At the same time, our focus on the Gospel lifts our heads above the pettiness that might divide us and raises our gaze to the people that God is calling to Himself through us. May God receive the glory as His church manifests unity!
by Tim Faulkner
Pastor, Il Faro International Baptist Church, Naples, Italy, and President of the IBC