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Pastor's Thoughts

Find updates, thoughts, event notices, or short message from Pastor Tim in his weekly blog posts. 

Monday Thoughts

Dear Church Family – Thanks for another great day in church yesterday! Judith and I are taking a little 3-day Spring Break get-a-way, so I’ve asked Bitty Wiebe to write today’s thoughts, below, and Wednesday’s. Thanks, Bitty. And thanks, Emmaus church family, for your love for God and others. – Pastor Tim I was recently reading Joshua 22, in which the eastern tribes of Israel build an altar to the Lord, and the western tribes misunderstand the intent behind the construction. What a misunderstanding! The western tribes swoop in, prepared to wreak havoc and destruction, but thankfully, in God’s providence, they allow the eastern tribes to explain why they had built the altar. And what was the reason? “Therefore we said, 'Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we do perform the service of the Lord in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and peace offerings, so your children will not say to our children in time to come, "You have no portion in the Lord."' And we thought, 'If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we should say, "Behold, the copy of the altar of the Lord, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you."' Far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord and turn away this day from following the Lord by building an altar for burnt offering, grain offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the Lord our God that stands before his tabernacle!" (Joshua 22:26-29) Essentially, the reason they built the altar was for unity. Unity within God’s chosen people; a unity based on obeying God’s commands for worship, out of love and reverence for Him. The tribes were united in created purpose, to glorify their Creator. This got me to thinking about unity amongst believers today, and unity at Emmaus. Unity is universally defined as “the state of being undivided,” or “oneness,” but what about Christian unity? A oneness based on a united purpose, with a biblical basis and model? Biblical unity is when God brings together people of different ethnicities, backgrounds, proclivities, socioeconomic statuses, etc., into one body, by faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26-28). The Bible teaches that the church’s unity is a reflection of the unity of the Trinity. And to what end? That a watching world might believe the truth of the gospel (John 17:20-23) and come to faith in Christ! What a tremendous privilege and stewardship unity is, in that case. However, there are some things that unity is not. Unity is not a virtue in and of itself. While it is wonderful “when brothers dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1), unity is not a virtue in and of itself. The unity at the Tower of Babel in the Old Testament, or between Herod and Pilate in the New Testament, effectively demonstrate that unity can be used for good or evil purposes. To pursue unity at all costs defeats the nature of biblical unity, which is grounded in the preaching, teaching, and application of truth. I’ll say it again: relational harmony is not the same thing as relational health.Unity in and of itself isn’t the goal; biblical unity grounded in truth is. Unity is not uniformity. The family of God is made up of a diverse group of people! Ephesians 4:11-13 is very clear that the church’s members are gifted in specific, different ways, in order to serve each other for the sake of maturity in the faith, which in turns brings glory to God. Though we are one in Christ, God doesn’t erase our unique gifts, abilities, personal preferences, or other distinctions like gender or age. He also doesn’t erase our ethnic and cultural heritages (which Revelation pretty clearly teaches). Attempting to “level the playing field,” as it were, by ignoring or denying our God-given differences, only throws them into starker relief, and affronts our wise Creator God. Any call to unity that requires partisan allegiance, or discarding heritage, or melding cultural and/or social norms with spiritual obligations, is not a call to biblical unity, but to assimilation. Unity doesn’t ignore conflict and/or sin. Biblical unity doesn’t sweep evil under the rug, stiff-arm critique, or dismiss conflict in order to maintain a false sense of peace. David learned this the hard way when he failed to execute justice for his daughter Tamar after she was raped by her brother Amnon in 2 Samuel. The results were anything but unifying. Unity that is divorced from appropriate justice is a false unity, and is tantamount to bearing false witness concerning the holiness of God, who will not be mocked (1 Corinthians 5). The biblical call to unity is one that requires us to repent of damage done to others. If we really want true unity among our fellow believers, a unity that both reflects God, and also expresses the unity his Son secured on the cross, then we must examine ourselves. Are we insisting on our own way, and/or dismissing the pain of others? Then we must repent and resolve anew to love our neighbor as ourselves. Biblical unity will not often be easy or comfortable. It will demand that we, empowered by the Holy Spirit, actively “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” (Colossians 3:14) Praying and striving for unity with you! – Bitty Wiebe, Guest Writer

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