Pulling Together

“If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:6-7).

Most Christians acknowledge that adversity has always helped, not destroyed, the church. But few consider why. Adversity often causes people to pull together and work as a unit. When people pull together, they triple their strength and enjoy much better results. Of course, adversity can pull people apart, depending on their attitudes.

In the early church, the persecuted Christians came together and experienced God’s blessings. They prayed together, worshiped together, worked together and sacrificed together. They served the same Lord, and shared the same purpose:

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (Philippians 1:27-30).

They stood “in one spirit” faithfully “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” and also shared “the same conflict.” Jesus exhorted His followers to be one, just as He and His Father were one (John 17:21). God exhorts us to unity and oneness as we conduct our days here on earth (Ephesians 4:3).

Application

1. Be prepared to surrender your individual rights for the sake of the whole.
When people stress their rights, they risk their unity. God calls us to surrender rights for the sake of the greater body of Christ. Paul devoted an entire chapter of the Bible to surrendering rights (see 1 Corinthians 9). Remember as we surrender such rights for others, they will equally surrender rights for you. God has designed His church to work that way.

2. Find common ground without surrendering principle.
In a family situation, parents have to conduct the home by principles. But many problems arise from inconveniences rather than principles. One person wants the car Saturday night, another wants it, too. Pray for wisdom to discern between principles and conveniences. It’s okay to surrender conveniences, but never principles.

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