Section 5: The Holy Spirit
Week 4: The Holy Spirit’s Work in the Life of the Believer
Day 4: The Holy Spirit’s Role in Unifying Believers
From what we’ve said so far, it would be easy to get the impression that the Spirit primarily works within believers individually. There is, however, a corporate dimension to the Spirit’s work. He is concerned about the spiritual well-being of the church as whole, not just believers individually. In that regard, he is particularly focused on maintaining unity within the church.
Towards the beginning of Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring trilogy, a small group undertakes a mission to destroy the One Ring. The One Ring has such great power that if it were to fall back into the hands of their enemy, Sauron, he would have no trouble taking over and enslaving all of Middle Earth. So this small group agrees to take the ring into enemy territory and toss it into a volcano known as Mount Doom.
What makes this group so interesting is that it is comprised of such unlikely allies. Elves and Dwarves hate each other. Yet Gimli the dwarf and Legolas the elf both sign up to be a part of this group known as the Fellowship of the Ring. Boromir is the son of the Steward of Gondor. The stewards have ruled Gondor since Isildur, the last king died. Aragorn is Isildur’s heir and, therefore, poses a threat to the power Borimir’s family currently enjoys. Despite these difference and even hostilities, they are committed to one another. Their mission binds them together… until Boromir comes under the ring’s spell. He believes it holds the key to saving Gondor, which is currently under attack by Sauron. Looking to his own interests rather than the group’s, he decides to try to take the ring for himself. The fellowship is destroyed in the process.
Unity within Church is destroyed for much the same reason. We may not try to steal the One Ring, but we do look to our own interests. Earlier we discussed how selfishness destroys oneness within relationships. Selflessness, on the other hand, promotes oneness. As a result, we said that if we want to experience oneness in our relationships, we have to be selfless. We can’t experience the one without being the other.
It’s no different in the Church, and the Holy Spirit is the one who makes oneness possible. Left to ourselves we naturally focus on ourselves. Fortunately God hasn’t left us to ourselves. We have the Holy Spirit actively working in our lives.
Yesterday, we saw how the Holy Spirit works to make us more like Christ. What characteristic stands out the most when we think of Christ? His willingness to set aside his own interests and sacrifice himself for us. That is exactly why Paul tells us to adopt the attitude of Christ. (Phil. 2) The more we reflect that attitude in our lives, the greater unity we’ll find within the church. By focusing our attention on Christ’s character, the Holy Spirit transforms the character of individual believers, which in turn promotes unity within the Church as a whole.
Do you actively work to promote unity with the Church? Are you ever tempted to look to your interests more than the interests of others? In what ways? Why?
Commit to doing at least one thing to promote greater unity within your church.