Articles

Unity-A Key to Revival, November 10, 2011
 

 Praying for Unity and Acting for
Unity
By Myron
Heckman, Pastor, Cape Cod Bible Alliance Church, Brewster
This
article’s subject arose during a conversation about the Glory of God on Cape
Cod. While it is lengthy for an email, it addresses a crucial subject over which many believers experience heartbreak.


Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
For there the LORD commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore. Psalm 133:1,3b

The story of
Nehemiah begins with a man weeping over the condition of Jerusalem, especially
represented in its broken down walls. The broken down walls meant the enemies
of the city could steal or destroy anything the residents created or built. The
result was a lifeless city in spiritual malaise. The exiled Nehemiah mourned deeply when he
heard the reproach that had fallen on his beloved city.

Our Glory of
God on Cape Cod movement has drawn parallels between broken ancient Jerusalem
and the Church today. A major way the walls of the church have been broken down
is by a wrecking ball called division. It is swung by Satan and it hangs from
the crane of pride. It happens with splits or splinters in congregations, or by
interpersonal acrimony. It grieves the Spirit (Eph 4:30) and we can understand
why – the same Spirit is in Christian A and Christian B, who are bitter toward
each other. The Holy Spirit baptized
them into one body, and Christ died to break down walls of hostility in
Himself, but there is a rift in His body.

Divisions
take place between pastors and congregations, between church ministry team members,
in families, between friends. They occur between pastors of different churches,
or on the same staff. One of the agonies of the Christian life is to go into a
sanctuary of worship where the tension is so thick it can be cut with a knife.
The broken down walls allow our spiritual enemies - the world , the flesh, and
the devil - to come in and trample down
precious things. And most devastating of all, the glory of God intended to be
displayed in reconciled relationships is disfigured.

When I have preached
on forgiveness and later converse with people struggling with the issue I find
that almost every person’s situation is very complicated. Betrayal, family
entanglements, money issues, harsh words, lies, or an absolute lack of trust
can be caught together in a steel-jaw trap that won’t let go. Efforts at
reconciliation go nowhere, or make the situation worse. And so for many resolving the situation seems
impossible. And from a human standpoint it is impossible. But it is an
opportunity for God to work and show His glory.

Some time
ago I was privileged to be part of a meeting as a witness and objective
reflector for two colleagues in ministry (off-Cape). One is in front line
ministry, the other a supervisor, and there was tension and distrust between
them. The front line minister was angry, and his emotions were showing. A
half-hour into the meeting it looked as though there would be no reconciliation.
About 50 minutes into the meeting there was a turning point. The problem that manifested
itself in anger was actually hurt, a feeling of neglect. From there on the rest
of meeting moved toward reconciliation. It ended with joy.

What can you
do?
1) Pray for the
unity Christ has provided to be displayed in the Church. In your church.
We need the broken down walls to be rebuilt to give spiritual
strength and protection that Life might flourish among us. Be a “warrior for
unity” meaning you are willing to endure suffering and to be strong and
courageous about it
2) Examine yourself – do have wounds that still
“bleed” and steal your joy? Do you carry any grudges you have gotten used to?
In a time with the Lord, clear your heart of any bitterness, however small it
may seem. If you have returned evil for evil, repent of that. Own anything you
have done to contribute the situation, not waiting for the other person to reciprocate.
3) Do what you
can to attempt reconciling any broken relationship. Not all will be healed. Not
all opponents will respond positively, and some might be nasty. But Paul
wrote: “As far as possible, as much as
lies within you, live at peace with all men.” Sometimes it is a simple request:
“We’ve got tension between us. Can we talk about it?” Or, “I think there may be
some misunderstanding between us. I value our friendship and I’d like to clear
it up.” Start with a first step.
4) Some offenses
can be overlooked – we bear with one another in love (Eph 4:2). Other offenses, more serious or done
repeatedly, need to be discussed starting with a private conversation.
(In abusive situations, a third party may be needed from the
beginning. For alleged crimes, it is legitimate to call in authorities. For civil suits between Christians, rather
than a lawsuit, submitting to a group of mature leaders for mediation or
arbitration is God’s way – I Cor. 6:1-7).
5) Some
situations call for church discipline which means the leaders need to be
involved and make a decision. In that case they need a congregation that
believes in biblical discipline.
6) One common
block to forgiveness is a fear of being hurt again. That can be a very
legitimate fear. Forgiveness doesn’t
mean you automatically restore trust and thus become a doormat to be trampled
on again and again. But forgiveness does mean you will let go of a desire for
vengeance, that you will no longer dwell on the offense, and you will no longer
talk to others about it.
7) The greatest
joy is in a fully restored, trusting relationship where love is freely enjoyed.
It is a benefit of having been forgiven by Christ that we might forgive in
return. Christ’s grace shown to you is the motivation for you to show grace to
others (Eph. 4:32).

An excellent
book to read with many practical helps is “The Peace Maker” by Ken Sande. He
recounts many stories of conflict and how they were resolved with godly
principals, and stories where reconciliation didn’t happen, but was obediently
attempted. If you feel stuck in a
conflict the book is well worth the price and a few hours of reading. You may
feel like you are reading about your situation.

The good
news is that God can redeem a bitter situation by healing it and bring new life
from it – humility, harmony, joy, and new life in a congregation. In the 1970s there was a revival that touched
North America. Many churches had extended services as people testified to God’s
work, confessed sin and set new priorities. An early center of the revival was in Western
Canada and then the awakening spread down to the United States, and touched
Cape Cod as well. One of the sparks of
that revival occurred in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan, in 1971, with reconciled relationships. Oliver Price writes about
it:
“Irma
Derksen was one of the pillars of the church along with her husband, Sam, who
was a deacon. She had been praying for her church, her city and her country
while ignoring her own spiritually barren condition. He had a critical spirit.
There were people in the church she didn't like. Furthermore, she wouldn't even
speak to Sam's brother, Arnold, who was also a deacon. On that second night
Irma went to the altar where she faced up to the deadly sins that were
destroying her own inner life.

That night,
Irma accepted the fact that Christ had died for her self-life. By faith, she
claimed the power of the Holy Spirit. She left the altar radiant with joy.
Rather than waiting for others to apologize to her, she went to them and asked
their forgiveness. For her the Christian life was, as some say, a "whole
new ballgame." (Lutzer, p.27)

Sam was not
moved by his wife's decision. He had begun to doubt whether God ever answered
prayer. His thirteen year old feud with Arnold was so bitter that for two years
they had not even spoken to one another. They were split apart over the music
program of the church. Sam had lost all hope of being reconciled to Arnold.

However, one
night Arnold went to the basement with the pastor and another deacon. Sam was
invited to join them and he asked his brother to forgive him. "Well, it's
about time," Arnold snapped. However, God broke Arnold's arrogant spirit
after the pastor and the deacon prayed. He confessed his sins and cried with a
broken heart.

The brothers
hugged each other as they both wept and asked for forgiveness. They returned to
their waiting families who immediately shared the unity and love the brothers
now possessed.

Pastor
McLeod saw the inner life of his entire church transformed. The officers and
teachers of his church came forward to get right with God. The man made
structure of the church crumbled before his eyes. "Then I saw God take
that crumbled structure and build a real church, His Church. It's beautiful to
behold," McLeod explained. Love was knee deep in the congregation.
Kurt Koch
wrote:
McLeod
told me in the course of a personal conversation, "The chief
characteristic of this revival is love." People who previously could not
stand one another have embraced each other and asked for forgiveness. Ministers
have become reconciled with their co-workers. In all kinds of human relationships
the sand has been removed from the works. Love has become the basis upon which
all questions are settled. (Koch, p. 29)”
From Bible
Prayer Fellowship
For a more
complete story go to:
http://www.praywithchrist.org/prayer/canada.php

What could
God do among us if we will obey his commands in regard to unity? Psalm 133 says
He will command the blessings summed up as “Life.” He will manifest His glory. Pray and obey.


[back]