Finding unity — first, hearing and following

Matt. 7:13 NET
 13 Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

We are faced with choices, more than trivial choices that is, every day. Do we choose for Jesus — discern the Way of Jesus among the options — or just go with our preference? If we all chose Jesus’ way, we’d be in unity but of course we don’t always get it right and to be honest, we don’t always ask and listen. So unity is something we have to work at (<u>Eph. 5:3</u>).

There is much in the Bible about the holiness that surrounds unity and the unholiness and therefore spiritual danger of disunity.

Unity doesn’t just occur. It is a choice. If you have 10 people, you have, humanly speaking, 10 opinions e.g whether the referee should have allowed that goal, whether Brexit or Remain was the right choice for the UK, who should win Strictly Come Dancing and whether the Kingdom of God is more about worship or mission.

We were created as individuals with minds and opinions and we all bring different experiences and desires to the debate.

We were also created as, potentially, spiritual people, submitted to God through friendship with Him by accepting Jesus as Saviour and Lord. So it’s about friendship with the world, and all those opinions, and caring about what other people think and being swayed by them and our loyalties; over and against what God might be saying to us through His Word, flagged up in various ways. Sometimes it takes courage to go against the crowd.

We have free will, and on many worldly issues we may be entirely free to exercise that will. The Holy Spirit’s leading, informed by Scripture (he won’t go against His word) may not be too concerned to sway our choice.

On kingdom issues, however, it is quite different. Heaven has clarity and we often have confusion. In heaven there is no question that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. For us, it is a question of choice. His Way might not be the way we would choose for our own comfort or fulfilment. What if it is unattractively narrow and difficult? What if the more difficult way puts us in a minority, against the peer pressure to go with our friends? That sets out the problem.

The reason we so often face this dilemma is because God wants to grow us. He wants to grow us stronger in choosing for Him, more able to take a different path from the crowd — better at hearing Him and better at following Him. We can’t lead anyone else until we’ve learned to follow!

Discussion and reflection

  1. Bible study. <u>Ephesians 5:2–3</u>
     Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep [NASB being diligent to preserve] the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
     Why is Paul making this exhortation?
     How do we “make every effort”?
  2. Why do we so often choose the ‘default’ path of least resistance, rather than the more narrow or difficult way? What simple discipline would improve our choices?
  3. When the path seems to be disappearing, how do you know you are on the Way that’s a path of truth and life — the right path — and not taken wrong turning?
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