The AMI QT Devotionals from February 4-5 (new) are provided by Christine Li, who serves as a deaconess at Remnant Church in Manhattan, New York.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
“The Key to Unity”
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
I used to hold a personal theory called the Transitive Property of Friendship (from the geometric principle that if A = B, and B = C, then one can confidently conclude that A = C). My reasoning went as such: If I had a deep friendship with Person A, and I had a deep friendship with Person C, then Person A and Person C could surely become good friends. On a very ideal level, it sounded right that everybody (especially in the family of God) would get along. But over the years, I have found that not all my friends become friends with each other, nor am I always close with those my friends love and cherish.
The problem with my theory was not that I failed to account for personality differences or how we sin against each other. The problem with this theory is that I relied on the wrong bridge (myself) to join people together. Scripture tells this too: The bond of peace arises (and should be sought) through the Spirit of God. Because His Spirit lives in us and permeates all things, there can be a harmony and unity among all parts.unity does not come solely from my (or yours, or our pastors’) abilities to build relationships. Instead, we look to our God, who is the One most experienced in establishing “impossible” relationships. If He could make peace between holy God and fallen mankind, then surely His Spirit can create or restore relations with one another.
If you are a believer, then the peace that Christ secured is not a dispassionate co-existence with Him. And if you have seen that God has made a way for an active and rewarding relationship with Him, then I want to encourage you not to settle in your idea of maintaining peace with others.
Would you consider moving towards someone in your church today to maintain and build unity? It could be someone with whom you have little in common; maybe someone that would require a supernatural love on your part to build a relationship with. Rather than counting differences to start, we can begin by counting our similarities: shared identity, shared hope, and shared mission. Let’s ask for the opportunity to demonstrate the incredible peace of God and let it be reflected in our lives and our communities.
Prayer: God, thank You for loving us! You made a peace.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Philemon 1:10-20 “I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. 20 I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.”
Questions to Consider
- What is the purpose of Paul’s letter to Philemon here?
- What is the benefit to Paul to advocate on behalf of Onesimus?
- What kinds of relationships does Paul mention here? Why are they significant?
- Paul is advocating on behalf of Onesimus, who has been separated (likely voluntarily) from Philemon, his master. Paul is asking Philemon to accept Onesimus back. He also charges any losses that Philemon incurred because of Onesimus to himself personally.
- Paul mentions that he would regard Philemon’s acceptance of Onesimus as a reason why he would be refreshed in Christ. In short, Paul would rejoice in the Lord and would find this spiritually refreshing if Philemon were to do so.
- Paul uses the following terms: “son” (v.10), “man” (v.16), “better than a slave, as a dear brother” (v.16). No matter Onesimus’ previous relationship with Philemon, their history has been replaced with the reality of new spiritual identity. Onesimus has become Paul’s son, and he is now Philemon’s brother. This reminds us that our own experience and history of relating to one another cannot compare to the new names and identities that Christ bestows. Faith in Christ is the ultimate leveler of status and the deciding factor for our love.
Take some time to think about today’s topic. Is there someone God has put on your heart to seek out? Let’s ask Him for the strength and commitment to follow through and to surrender our expectations to Him. This is a work in progress – let’s ask God to remind us what is possible in our community when we rely on His Spirit to unify us.