“Cultivating Authentic Harmony” is the phrase I have been focusing on of late, and the direction my calling is leading me. These three words hold special meaning for me, each one having shown up in some unique way over the years, describing my personality and motivation. Now highlighted, I am drawing from them to encourage Christians to pursue authentic harmony aka unity in the Church.
DISCORD INVITES RESOLUTION
The disunity in Christian community has become the notorious norm in our culture, mirroring (or perhaps leading) the divorce rate in marriages. Rare is a sense of loyalty and commitment to the family of followers, and Christians walk out of church for any reason.
I admit, I have divorced myself from local church more than once, walking out of each congregation, offended by someone in leadership. I am guilty of that which I am now speaking against. But rather than disqualifying me from His harmony purpose, God has shown me the errors in my behavior, and is walking along side me in building up the body of Christ.
Let me pause by encouraging you too . . .
Your failures do not disqualify you from the work God has called you to but are the weaknesses He carries you through to finish together.
UPLUGGING UNTETHERED TO REBOOT HARMONY
I began writing my “Untethered” blog in February of 2020 with a process plan for finding freedom. At that time I defined Untethered in the following statements:
Living Untethered is no longer being tied to hurtful thoughts but thriving in truth.
Living Untethered is moving freely in the personal joys and talents God has gifted.
Living Untethered is about feeling relieved by the limits of my own strength and resources, knowing my ends are the beginning of the strengths and resources of God and of others…endless!
The words in that last statement, “knowing my ends are the beginning of the strengths and resources of God and of others,” that has a profound impact on me lately. My part in God’s Kingdom is not about just me, but about “We.” God has laid on me this task…promote the benefit of Church harmony.
PAUL’S PLEASURE IN WEAKNESS
The Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 echo the sentiment that we cannot go life alone (as much as we try to):
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (NKJV)
When I look at the chronicles of Paul’s life, I see how God sustained him in difficult times. Along with God, the members of the Church also participated in caring for Paul and seeing to his needs so that he could continue his mission in sharing the gospel. Paul was never on his own, never independent, and he boasted about that fact.
GOD CHOSE FELLOWSHIP
God chose to establish His Kingdom through connection. He chose the physical human body as a way of putting love into action, where the nontangible becomes tangible. But then He chose a fellowship…Church as the method of growing His Kingdom. God’s way has always been an invitation to join Him in His community…a cohort of individuals that prioritize the entity over the individual.
In my last post (dated October 7, 2023), I mentioned a quote on marriage from Paula Stone Williams, “A Marriage is not two halves becoming one whole. It is two whole people creating a new entity – the relationship. The relationship has to be nurtured just like you nurture a child.”
This concept of prioritizing the new entity over the needs of the individual is how Jesus walked out his role as Savior.
“Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death – death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8
The trinity of God is the prioritized entity Jesus submits himself to. He loves the unity-in-three over the power-of-one. And that’s the community we are invited to join. A trustworthy, fully committed, bonded, sacrificial society.
CHEERING ON THE TEAM
Can we boast in that?
Can we be that?
Yet God is not inviting us into a cult of uniform soldiers who all look alike. God has made each of us unique, talented, gifted, and full of passion. We are organic in our organization, a living, moving, thinking being with different purposes for our diverse parts. How beautiful! But also, how challenging! How do you control that entity?
It’s less about control than it is about surrender.
Cultivating authentic harmony in church is about accepting our individual makeup as being God’s good design and coming alongside one another to make the whole-of-us strong in love.
I love that term – The Whole-Of-Us.
FINDING MY SPECIAL NOTES
This year, I have come to appreciate my special design. And I am becoming more confident in it. At the same time, I am also coming to appreciate my weaknesses, and the limitations they bring, because those are my boundaries. When I cross those boundaries, I enter someone else’s strength zone, limiting the effectiveness in their role.
For example, in music, if I am a solid alto singer, but occasionally branch into soprano, I am not only bringing down the soprano section with my less than stellar high notes, but I also weaken the altos by not giving fullness to that part. It becomes a lose-lose scenario in God’s win-win design. The composition is not as great as it could be.
The Body of Christ, in its authentic harmony, is a win for the whole-of-us.
CULTIVATING AUTHENTIC HARMONY
Cultivating authentic harmony is a key phrase that is meant to encourage us as individuals in the Church to own our identity and special design so that as we do our part, the whole-of-us becomes healthy, unified, and growing in the fullness love.
I hope you will join me in this effort to cultivate a unified community of faith in the One who is the ultimate team player. I encourage you to know yourself well. Find your strengths and weaknesses and consider them both a gift to the Church. Observe the same in your fellow congregants and applaud them for it. Thank them for respecting their range of their part. And commit to one-another as Christ as committed to us.
In future posts I will address how Church culture can be healthier than it is, and how easy it is to overlay secular templates on our heavenly design.