Every year in July the best sporting event in the world takes place. Some of you may recall that I am referring not to Wimbledon or the MLB All-Star game, but the momentous ‘Tour De France.’ 198 of the worlds top cyclists race almost 2,300 miles over France. Divided into 21 stages, racing at speeds of 35-60 mph for 5 hours a day, there are few events like it. Some of you have heard speak of my affection for this event before. One of the many reasons I enjoy watching the Tour is cycling’s focus on the team rather than the individual. No one has ever won the Tour, and no one will ever win the Tour unless they’re part of a team committed to working together in unity and harmony, regardless of what happens. Each team member plays a vital role in the team because when each individual on the team lines up in a single file line while racing they can go much faster than a lone rider trying to make it by himself. When a large group of teams find themselves riding along side other teams at the same time it is called a peloton, which can move faster together than a lone team trying to win it on their own. If there is unity present in the team there is a good chance of success. If there is discord, even with one member, it can ruin the entire 3-week race for the whole team.
How much more does the principle of unity come into view when we discuss the Church as it exists worldwide, and as is it is expressed here in our local congregation? The stakes are raised when the focus turns to the Church. If unity is present we will thrive and grow as a community, together moving toward one focused vision. Unity isn’t merely a good idea or a church growth principle that I’m trying to convince you of, it is life and death. Churches that are unified are healthy, gospel-spreading churches that WILL make a lasting impact in the cities God has placed them. Churches that are full of discord are unhealthy, inward focused churches that won’t even try to reach the cities God has placed them in. Perhaps you think I’m overstating my case a bit, but I would argue with you that I’m not. How much is your entire body affected when you stub your toe or slam your finger in a door? A lot.
The same rings true with us. If one of us is out of line, or is sowing discord, we aren’t unified. Today, in our last message in our series on the CHURCH, we turn our focus toward unity.