Pursuing Biblical Unity in a Divided World
Ashlynn Kinniard |
September 11, 2023
In a world filled with disagreements and conflicts, Beth Guckenberger's sermon reminds us of the important role that the church plays in working toward unity. She explores why it's crucial for the church to remember who it is and to live out its values in a world that often seems divided. In her message, Beth takes us on a journey toward achieving biblical unity and encourages us to be the catalysts for change.
Rediscovering Our Identity: Embracing Differences
Beth begins by emphasizing that the first step toward unity is for the church to revisit its identity and firmly commit to living out its purpose. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the church should exemplify qualities like generosity, engagement, and unity as a unified body, even when faced with diversity in terms of skin color and culture.
Confronting Racism: Overcoming Unfairness
One particularly powerful moment in Beth's sermon is when she identifies racism as a form of unfairness. She stresses that the Holy Spirit can help us overcome this deeply rooted problem, but it requires a change in our hearts, not just changing the rules. To drive this point home, Beth shares an impactful video featuring her friend Michael Sickles. He argues that the church should humbly admit that it doesn't fully understand the experiences of others when it comes to race. Being arrogant and ignorant, he says, hinders our progress toward unity.
The Church as a Beacon of God's Presence on Earth
Beth reminds us that the church is like a piece of heaven on earth, a place where God's love and presence are present. Therefore, it's the church's duty to promote reconciliation and repent for any injustices. Drawing inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, Beth emphasizes the importance of focusing on unity rather than dwelling on past injustices. She calls on us to put in every effort to maintain peace among believers and actively pursue practices that promote unity.
Living Out Biblical Unity: A Divine Responsibility
Quoting Pastor Crawford Loritts, Beth challenges us not only to avoid racism but to actively oppose it. She calls for a commitment to valuing life from the very beginning to the end—a pro-life stance that encompasses all stages of life. Beth argues that biblical unity is demonstrated by following the commands found in the Bible, such as loving, honoring, instructing, accepting, waiting for, serving, bearing with, and forgiving one another.
The Essence of Love and Unity
Beth explains that the Hebrew word for love, "Ahava," contains the word "Aha," which signifies that love involves giving selflessly. According to her, biblical unity means loving and giving so much that you'd do anything for others, even if it's challenging.
Creating Safe Spaces for Difficult Conversations
Beth introduces Swetha Vincent, a staff member working on unity within the church. Swetha sheds light on her team's mission to create safe spaces for discussing challenging topics like race and justice. She emphasizes the importance of addressing these issues with humility and a commitment to learning, recognizing that people are at different stages of healing.
Taking Action for Unity
In conclusion, Beth provides practical steps for those inspired by her message. She encourages us to pray fervently for unity, listen attentively to the stories of others, and engage in small acts of kindness. Beth reminds us that real transformation occurs when we share our stories and take the time to understand each other's pain. The church should lead by example, fostering healing through honest conversations and guiding our culture toward the place where God envisions it. Pursuing genuine biblical unity may involve sacrifice, but it serves as a tangible demonstration of God's kingdom on earth.
Beth Guckenberger's sermon is a call to action. It reminds us that working toward unity isn't something we can merely observe; we must actively participate in it. It's an opportunity for us to make the world a better place, and this is something that everyone can contribute to.