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Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-16
Unity in Adversity
1. Adversity: “a condition marked by misfortune, calamity, or distress” (dictionary.com); “a state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty or adverse fortune” (Merriam-Webster).
a. Jesus faced adversity in life, Lk 22:28.
b. Jesus promised tribulation to apostles, but the peace and joy of Christ would sustain them, Jno 16:33.
c. Apostles promised Christians “many tribulations” in the kingdom, but exhorted them to “continue in the faith”, Acts 14:22.
d. Paul and John faced and spoke of adversity, 2 Tim 3:12; Rev 1:9.
2. Adversity, if not properly handled, can cause division and scattering, Jno 16:32; Matt 24:9-12.
I. UNITY IN ADVERSITY.
A. Unity in Adversity is a Great Benefit, Eccl 4:9-12; Jno 17:20-21.
B. We are Commanded to Endeavor to Keep Unity, Eph 4:3.
1. This implies that unity can be corrupted, and without diligent attention, unity will not and cannot long endure (endeavor: to dispatch with haste, exertion).
2. Unity in moments of adversity requires strength of faith, for without strong faith, adversity will tear apart the ties that bind.
3. Adversity can draw us closer: Common faith, hope and cause.
II. OVERCOMING ADVERSITY TO KEEP UNITY IN CHRIST REQUIRES:
A. Faith in Christ, Jno 16:33; 1 Jno 5:4.
1. Peace and joy, Jno 16:33, 22. He has overcome the world! (Jno 15:18; 12:31-33)
-The “bond of peace” is the “uniting principle” that holds us together, being controlled by peace, to which we have been called in one body, Col 3:15.
2. Continue in the faith, Acts 14:22. Endurance, 2 Tim 2:11-13.
3. Walk in love, Jno 13:34-35; Col 3:14 (“bond of perfection”).
-Scripturally defined and applied, 1 Jno 5:3.
B. Unwavering Commitment to Truth, Eph 4:20-24; Gal 5:7-9
1. Uncompromising obedience when challenged to conform to lesser norms, Jude 3-4. -cf. today’s call for “unity in diversity”!
2. Unflinching support of faithful brethren, cf. Gal 4:11-16.
C. Must Place a High Value on our Unity in Christ and be Vigilant to Preserve it, Jno 17:20-21; Eph 4:3. (Work tirelessly to guard it)
1. Enjoy the goodness of unity, Psa 133:1.
2. Preserve the integrity of unity, Gen 13:8.
3. Endurance to the end maintains unity, Matt 24:13; Heb 12:1-2.
III. ADVERSITY IN THE LOCAL CHURCH.
A. Discord and Rivalry among Brethren, Gal 5:19, 20-21.
1. Hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies and envy.
2. Failure to lovingly serve: Biting and devouring, Gal 5:13-15.
B. Adversity in the Local Church has the Potential to Disrupt Unity:
1. False teachers and false doctrines, 2 Tim 2:16-18; Titus 1:10-11.
2. Factiousness (binding opinions), Rom 14:1-5.
3. Power plays, 3 Jno 9-10 (Phil 2:3-4).
4. Hidden sin, Josh 6:18 (7:1, 5), 7:11-15, 20, 25; Matt 18:15-17.
a. When sin is covered up it causes great harm to the church!
b. When sin is addressed godly, advances righteousness.
5. Demanding some “new thing”: Failure to be content with the “old paths” of divine truth (Jer 6:16-17).
IV. ADVERSITY IN FAMILIES.
A. Special Occasions: Holidays, Birthdays, Weddings and Funerals.
1. Some of these literally tear families apart!
2. Let us yield to one another, doing our part to insure there is no strife in our families, Gen 13:8-9; remember Gen 2:24.
B. Financial Strain, Matt 6:25-34; Phil 4:11-13.
C. Marital "Bliss" (Eph 5:31, 33).
1. Those who have nurtured the unity of marriage are shielded and strengthened by it during adversities.
2. Aging and decline of good health, job loss, etc.
1. When adversity comes because of our faith and obedience to Christ, then we must stand united!
2. Whether as a church or in our families, our unity in adversity will mark us as the people of God, 1 Pet 4:12-13.