May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5–6 ESV)
I am using these most recent mid-week devotionals to look at some of the benedictions that we find in Scripture. These are passages we often end our worship services with, and I very much look forward to reading these passages over you in person in the future. The benediction passage I want to look at today is Romans 15:5-6. This is the Apostle Paul’s prayer for unity in the church in Rome. Paul prays for unity and harmony, but not uniformity. Paul has been instructing the church on how to love one another when individual Christians in the church have differing convictions about certain practices.
When we gather again as a church, we will likely find that many of us will have consciences that are informed differently about certain issues relating to social distancing, the nature of the current health crisis, etc. This will present new challenges to our unity and familial love as a church family. We will be tempted to judge and condemn others who have convictions that differ from ours. We will be tempted to pridefully think that we are better Christians than those who are either more or less serious about social distancing than we are. We will be drawn to thinking that sees our personal views and information about the health crisis as the barometer for genuine Christian faith and spirituality. Paul does not think that Christians need to agree on all of these issues of conscience; instead, Paul prays for harmony. Harmony means having the same mind about something, and in the book of Romans we are called to have the same mind about the Gospel, God’s grace, and our love for Him and each other. In this benediction passage we are reminded about 2 things that will help us as we pursue harmony as a church.
1. The Giver of Harmony
Paul reminds us that harmony is something that is granted to us by the Lord who is the God of endurance and encouragement. We need endurance and encouragement in order to live in harmony with one another. It is easy to lose heart, to give up, and to become discouraged in the fight for Gospel unity, but there is Good News! Our Lord is the God of endurance and encouragement who grants harmony to his people. We often seek harmony in our own abilities, wisdom and strength, but we need endurance and encouragement that only comes from the Lord and His Word. We need to continually go before the Lord in prayer asking him for unity and harmony in the church.
2. The Purpose of Harmony
According to this benediction the purpose of our harmony as Christians is the glory of God. We are not called to live in harmony so that we can have a more pleasant life and easier relationships, but we are called to live in harmony so that we might glorify our God with one voice. The purpose of the church’s unity is the glory of God. Lack of harmony comes from seeking our own glory and selfish desires and considering ourselves as more important than others. True unity comes when we organize our desires and purposes around the praise and glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
May the harmony we pursue as a church resound in praise to our God forever and ever, Amen!
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