Advent Devotional 12/12: Unity Through Humility
“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:16–18, NIV)
One of the NFL teams I love to root against is the New England Patriots. They win too much, and it appears not always with fair play. And yet, this team has my begrudging respect because of their championship culture. They seem to win no matter who you put in there. Brady and Belichick keep them coming back to the Super Bowl year after year.
One of the qualities I notice about the Patriots is that they seem to have buy-in across the board. Each player seems willing to put aside personal pride and preference in order to do what is needed for the team. And if a player cannot do that, they do not last long in the organization. Antonio Brown is a recent example of a phenomenally talented player who was released from the team for being a distraction. I respect the Patriots for being unwilling to compromise team solidarity to cater to one talented superstar.
James, the leader of the Jerusalem Council, was writing to Jewish Christians across the Roman Empire. There seemed to have been common issues in churches that he wanted to address. The main issue was a lack of unity. The source of this was pride and selfish ambition. You had some people who were very gifted or very rich or very ambitious, and they thought of themselves very highly while looking down on others. This pride and selfish ambition was the root of disorder and evil practices in the church, ones that corrupted the church.
When we think about organization, we think about systems and tasks and plans. But what really causes disorganization and disorder? Selfish pride. When we look down on others instead of having a team mindset, when we want our way and our preferences against those of the team, we introduce disorder that will cause us to fail to achieve our goals.
In contrast, when we approach one another with purity and submission in our hearts, we establish a climate of unified peace that will make it easy to achieve our goals. When we have buy-in from everyone in the church, when we are all willing to lay down our own selfish pride, and work for the good of the team, nothing will be able to stop us from doing what God wants us to do.
Father of us all, bring about unity in our church. We are all different people, differently gifted with differing personalities and backgrounds. Yet you have called us to be one body at Kardia.
We need on another. We need the diversity of gifts and perspectives you have brought together. But we need unity as well. We need to be of one heart and one mind about the goals you are giving us to pursue. Humble each one of us. Remove pride from our community. Help us not to look down on one another, but really appreciate how differently gifted each of us is.
Bring about divine alignment in our plans, in our culture, in our values. We pray against rogue agents in our church, those who would sabotage the work you have given us to do by pulling in a different direction from the rest of the body.
We pray for a climate of respect for leadership, and humility in our leaders. We pray for the leaders of our church, from the pastors to the staff to the volunteer leaders. Fill them with divine wisdom, and inspire the church to help ease the burden of their leadership through respectful submission. Give each of them vision and faithfulness to carry out their roles with excellence and effectiveness.
Lord, we want to be a championship church year after year. Help us to raise up more leaders, young leaders, new leaders, and equip them to help Kardia push into new areas of ministry and mission as well as enhance the present ones. Create a culture of leadership and service that keeps us operating at a high level.
Let all the parts of Kardia the community and Kardia the organization submit ultimately to Jesus Christ, the head. Then we will be truly unified in spirit and in mission. We pray not for our own glory and ambition, but for the glory of Jesus Christ, that his will would be done in us.
In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.