Writer: Joy Yankey
Big Idea: Stephen Ambrose wrote book called Band of Brothers following Easy Company of the 121stAirborne during World War II. The book chronicles the epic journey of a group of soldiers and the unique bond built from boot camp to Bastogne. The battle cry of the 506th regiment, “Currahee – We Stand Alone Together”. This battle cry was a reminder, regardless of impossible odds, the soldiers of the 506th could always count on the person on their left and right. The Christian walk was never meant to be lived in isolation. God’s mission through the church will face challenges, God’s people are called to accomplish His mission together. The Holy Spirit has uniquely gifted each of us to make this happen in the context of community. When we are isolated, we are divided, and when we are divided, we are easily conquered. We cannot have community without unity.
Key Passages: 1 Peter 2:4-10; Ephesians 4:1-32; 6:10-20
Redwood trees are the tallest trees in the world. They can grow to 300 feet or more in height, but in contrast to other trees, their roots do not extend very deep, only 6-12 feet. Instead of deep, these trees go wide to find their strength. They extend their roots more than 50 feet from the trunk and form strong bonds with other Redwoods by intertwining and wrapping multiple times around each other’s roots. The roots of older trees hold on to the roots of young seedlings, helping them strengthen and grow. The strength of the Redwood collective allows them to withstand wind, floods, fires and earthquakes in ways that other tree types do not.
Jesus calls us as a church to be unified, to intertwine our lives with other Christians and in this way experience the strength of the collective, rather than try to live out God’s call on our lives alone. I recently met with some Christian friends from China who spoke about the increased persecution over the past year. They shared how, prior to last year, some larger churches had begun to focus on denominational and doctrinal differences, but with the persecution and disbanding of large churches, Christians are now relying more on house churches. They are realizing that they need to be unified, and rather than focusing on minor differences, choose to focus on discipleship – spreading the Good News and discipling Christians in a way that they will in turn disciple others.
And this is how the church has grown over the past 2000 years. Jesus gathered disciples with different personalities and gifts and from different walks of life. He discipled and loved them, died and rose again for them and empowered them with the Holy Spirit. And He sent them out, praying that they would be unified and be disciples who discipled other disciples. And the mission remains the same for us. 1 Peter 2 calls us “living stones” that Christ, the cornerstone, uses to build into His spiritual house. He calls us to come together, to be unified, to strengthen and build upon one another, not try and pretend to be a strong house made up of one or two bricks.
The evil one desires to keep us alone and isolated, filled with shame and the lies that other believers will not love and accept us. But in contrast, God desires unity and togetherness to be the Church’s strength. “For, our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) Too often the enemy succeeds in dividing us through our differences, rather than, as Ephesians 4:12-13 reminds us, building up unity through these differences which He has given us in order “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.”
In order to complete the mission God has given us, He calls us to put on the full armor of God and to be prepared for battle, but not to stand as a lone tree. Rather, He invites us to stand in unity: to join with and intertwine our roots with other believers so that when the battle comes, “you will be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)
- If anyone is new, start here, if not go to question 2: When/how did you become aware of God’s love? Who were the people who played a key role in your spiritual journey? How? What are 2/3 key moments in your relationship with God? Take a moment to ask questions.
- Do you have people around you that you count on? Can they count on you?
- Share a time that you felt you battled alone and a time you battled side by side with others.
Read 1 Peter 2:4-10
- How are we living stones? In what way are we priests? What sacrifices can we make that are pleasing to God?
- How are believers described in verses 9 and 10?
Read Ephesians 4:1-32; 6:10-20
- What are the characteristics of unity in Ephesians 4:2-3? Why does unity require so much effort?
- Unity does not mean that we are copies of on another. In what ways are we different? Can people who are essentially different become unified?
- What are some of the ways we can keep or maintain unity?
- How can we be strong?
- What is one step towards unity that you will take this week?
Prayer: Take a moment to share prayer requests and pray for each other. Consider using the ACTS method with the above passages:
Adoration – How can I praise God for what this teaches me?
Confession – What sin can I confess because of what this teaches me?
Thanksgiving – How can I thank God for what Jesus has done?
Supplication – What do I need to ask of God in order to grow in light of this?
Weekly Prayer Focus: Pray for commitment to unity within our families, church, community and nation.
Past Series Curriculum
Week 3: Matthew 5:21-30 – Anger, Judgement Date: September 23/24 Writer: Tracy Edwards Since Adam and Eve, we have been notoriously bad at determining for ourselves what is good and what is evil.…Read More