I had heard about the size, abundance and toxicity of Australian spiders. This was, in fact, the only thing that put any kind of a damper on my enthusiasm for visiting this fascinating continent.

I would learn, however, that the stories were a bit larger than life. During my 3 months stay on the continent, I didn't notice any particular overabundance of the creatures. In fact, when I compare the spiders in any home we stayed in while away to my own home, I believe I may have just as many spiders of comparable sizes!

There was this one spider event, however, that was, indeed, memorable. We were out hiking along the coast of Victoria, Australia, just off the Great Ocean Road, when we came upon a rather large cluster of spiders. It had been my experience that most spider webs are individual affairs, spreading from one inanimate object to another. Not so with this cluster. Each individual web served to connect two or more others to form a huge canopy of webs that was probably 3 m sq. (9 ft sq).

God has recently placed a great burden for my heart for unity in the church, and this has been the theme of several recent Nugget articles. After all, was this not a major theme of Jesus' final recorded prayer before going to the cross (see
John 17:11, 20-24)? With this in mind, I had only one thought as I walked away from that canopy of webs: If only the church would be so unified! If we would stop looking after our own individual needs long enough, we might see that we can, indeed, hold each other up, and the result would be a church that not only cares for its own, but also reaches out to cover the world at large!

Recently, as I penned the devotional on unity that appeared in the Nugget last week (Each Tiny Leaf), it occurred to me that understanding the power of unity isn't enough. What we really need to know is how to achieve this unity.

The secret, I feel, lies in 1 Cor. 12:13: "For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body--whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." (NIV). We can only be unified when we are all filled with God's Spirit. It is His Spirit that brings unity!

Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit?

The answer is 'yes'! Even though not everyone has received the spiritual gifts recorded in
1 Cor. 12, all true followers of Jesus Christ have been filled with His Spirit: "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ." (Rom 8:9 NIV; See Titus 3:3-6).

Why is it then, that we have not achieved unity?

I would suggest that it is because we aren't all using the power we have been given to attain unity. It's kind of like the barbeque unit on your deck. It may be there, but if you don't use it, you'll never be able to produce barbequed meat!

Here are a few suggestions I found for achieving our potential for unity:

1.    We must pray, like Elisha of old, for more and more of God's Spirit, upon us, and also, on our brothers and sisters in Christ (See 2 Kings 2:9).

2.    We need to love each other as Jesus loves us: "...he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant...he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death--even death on a cross!" (Phil. 2:6-8 NIV; see also John 13:34).  

3.    We need to take lessons from that cluster of tiny spiders in Victoria Australia...We must stop worrying only about ourselves and instead, we need to start supporting our fellow brothers and sisters. (See 1 Thes. 5:11; Heb. 10:24-25, etc.).

4.    Most importantly, let's look to Jesus' example: "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." (John 13:15 NIV). He spent His time on Earth giving to others. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, comforted the broken-hearted and brought hope to a hopeless generation. He even took the role of the servant and washed His disciples' feet (See John 13:5-17); and perhaps the most vivid portrayal of His love and selflessness is the cross itself (See Phil. 2:6-8). 

Interestingly, when I stood under that canopy of webs, I didn't even get squeamish. How could I have been afraid when they had so much to teach us about unity in the church?

Prayer: Father God, may we utilize that power for unity that you have already given each believer. May we follow Jesus' example and humble ourselves, putting aside our own ambitions, our apathy, our complacency, so that we may love one another as Jesus loves us, that we may support each other in every way. May we desire unity as much as You do! In the precious name of Jesus, Amen!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.