A Prayer for Unity through Following Jesus

Unity can seem elusive to a group from diverse ethnic and religious heritages. When writing to Christians in Roman, the apostle Paul prays that the church in Rome may know unity as they follow Jesus: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:5-6). Gentile and Jewish Christians alike carried cultural baggage into their new association as disciples of Jesus. We may not understand the exact nature of their differences concerning diet and holiday observance, but we know how political, ethnic, and regional differences disturbs the peace of churches today. Jews from Rome who heard Peter preach on Pentecost in Jerusalem a few weeks after the resurrection of Christ included both ethnic Jews and Gentile converts to Judaism. When the emperor had expelled all Jews from Rome a few years later, the church there suddenly would have been entirely Gentile Christian. When the Jewish Christians (who included Priscilla and Aquila) returned, they would have discovered new dynamics of relationship among the believers in Rome. The exhortations to love (Romans chapters 12 and 13) surrounding a passage about honoring the government make more sense when one realizes they were addressed both to Christians who identified with the ethnic and legal heritage of the Roman Empire and to Christians who a short time before had been expelled from their homes by the Emperor. Paul prays to the God who gives endurance and encouragement on behalf of the Roman Christians. They would need those traits before they could know unity among themselves.

Paul prays that that Christians will know unity as they “follow Christ Jesus.” Disciples divide when distracted from focusing on the “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:3). Rather than focusing on issues over which we have no control, let us focus on the one who unites us and renders meaningless our differences. When we pray, let us pray for unity based on the teachings and example of Jesus. Paul’s benediction reminds us also that our goal is to glorify God. Unity amplifies our shout of praise. When we focus on the desires of Jesus and the glory of our God, the urgency of our longings diminishes. Prayer matures when accompanied by obedience to Christ.

Father in Heaven, help us to recognize our selfishness and prejudices when they threaten our relationship with other disciples of Jesus. May we discard what distracts us from our Savior and focus on following him. Thank you, Lord, for your patience and your love. May we serve in ways that will bring you praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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About Michael Summers

Michael Waymon Summers preached for churches of Christ in Missouri and Maryland as a located preacher, worked as a corrections counselor, and taught in a public high school. He has preached as a guest speaker for churches or military chapels in twenty-four states as well as Afghanistan, Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Michael Summers holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible from Freed-Hardeman University, Henderson, Tennessee, and a Master of Theology degree from Harding School of Theology. He also has done graduate work in international studies at the University of Oklahoma and Troy University. He held certification as a teacher of high school social studies and language arts in Georgia. Michael sang in the Freed-Hardeman University A Cappella Singers and has continued his love for singing by participating in reunion concerts and community choirs as well as directing congregational singing for churches. Michael runs more than twenty miles most weeks and reads voraciously. Michael Summers presents special lesson series entitled “Call for Fire: Learning to Pray from the Prayers in the Bible,” “A People of Peace, A God of War: The Christian’s Relationship to Government Activities,” and “Sermons in Song.” He and his wife work together to present marriage enrichment seminars.
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4 Responses to A Prayer for Unity through Following Jesus

  1. Pingback: A Prayer for Unity through Following Jesus | A disciple's study

  2. Pingback: Where is God? – Part 5 | mubiana

  3. BOSS PAUL THE PHARISEE
    [sing it to the tune of "Rapture" by Blondie]

    I’m Boss Paul, the Pharisee
    My hypocrisy’s plain for the world to see
    I travel the land and travel the sea
    to make a convert who is just like ME

    “All have sinned” – we know that’s true
    but it never means ME – it only means YOU
    My sins are all theoretical
    “I’m the worst of sinners”- but don’t ask where

    To be more like Jesus is what some strive
    except for me – I’ve already arrived
    I’m the perfect model since the road to Damascus
    What were Paul’s sins? Don’t ask us!

    I justify everything I do
    If I testify about myself it MUST be true
    I’m the only man in all history
    whose testimony doesn’t need two or three

    If I did something it MUST be right
    Don’t use the Scripture to shed any light
    Don’t do as I say, do as I do
    and then you can be a Pharisee too.

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