Posted by: Bishop Jamie Apfelbeck
A recent divine service entitled “Unity” was based on Romans 15: 5-7, “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.”
Here, Paul addresses a diverse congregation, with members from different backgrounds, cultures, traditions, thoughts, and ideas. He explains that unity does not mean we all have to be the same. There will still be differences, we remain diverse and unique. Unity comes from experiencing and recognizing the glory of God together, as Jesus prayed in the High Priestly Prayer: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.”
(John 17: 22, NIV). This is great news and wonderful advice for congregations coming together in amalgamations.
Change is not easy, and for some, the thought of leaving the comfort of their familiar congregation can be frightening. However, the word from Romans describes our heavenly Father as the God of comfort. Take comfort in knowing that God loves you, He wants to draw you into close communion with Him, and He wants to share eternal glory with you. And not only you, but every single soul, without exception. This means that no matter the size of your congregation, rest assured that you are surrounded by the very souls God intends for you to spend eternity with.
One of the benefits of amalgamation is the diversity it brings to the congregation. It has long been recognized in the business world that diverse teams produce better results when everyone is accepted, valued, and treated equally. Paul already taught this in 1 Corinthians 12: 18-20 (NIV) when he equated the diversity of gifts in the congregation with the different parts of the body, all working together in unity: “But in fact God has placed 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.”
Remember that you are a very important and unique part of the congregation.
During the Pentecost service, the Chief Apostle taught us that when seen with the Holy Spirit, our differences are not an obstacle for unity. On the contrary, they are a blessing because we want to form a team who fights together with God and for God. If we were all the same, it wouldn’t be a very efficient team. We need our differences. Let every amalgamated congregation, and indeed every congregation be such a team. Everyone and every gift is needed, so get involved, be active, and contribute to the wonderful ways we can glorify God together as one.