Unity in the Church
HOW did the early Church survive and grow? No doubt through the Holy Spirit's work, but the unity and love among the early Christians was just as important.
Unity is crucial in missions and in advancing the church, Bishop Dr Hwa Yung told participants of the NECF Chinese Prayer Camp in July.
Unity means loving one another within and across denominations, and having a genuine willingness to work together. More often than not, churches each have their own outreach and evangelism agendas instead of a united plan to engage society.
"If we indeed want the world to see the reality of Christ, the world must first see His love at work in our midst," Dr Hwa, the main speaker, said in one of his sessions at the two-day camp, which was attended by more than 300 people from 34 churches.
He spoke on the early church model in Acts, which identified priorities and assigned people to tasks. In this way, unity within the church was maintained because needs were met and the task of preaching was not neglected.
Unity among church leaders also meant valuing and complementing one another's talents and contributions. Leaders ought not to be territorial or feel threatened by other leaders. Barnabas, who helped in Paul's ministry, was an example of one who was not intimidated by a well-known leader like Paul, but saw him as a partner in ministry.
The wisdom of the Council of Jerusalem can also teach us about preserving unity when there are disagreements. In Acts 15, the council decided not to burden the new Gentile believers unnecessarily over the rite of circumcision, and instead prioritised "pure and holy living".
Dr Hwa noted that when there is unity, the Holy Spirit can work. That is how the church in Acts grew steadily through a sustained revival. He urged Malaysian Christians to reflect on the state of unity in the local church.
Other speakers at the camp were NECF Chairman Rev Eu Hong Seng who addressed the current state of affairs in Malaysia, Rev Dr John Ong from the Malaysian Baptist Theological Seminary who spoke on the importance of intercession in church unity, and Pastor Jonathan Loh, Youth Pastor of FGA KL on youth ministry.
Several local Chinese Christian pop artistes were also invited to the camp to share their testimonies and how they used their influence in pop culture to impact people.