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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 47

The Heavenly Man As the Source and Sphere of Corporate Unity (continued)

Dwelling Together In Unity

Now we come to the second aspect of the basis of the blessing.

"Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1).

We have seen it in the illustration, the foreshadowing, namely, of Zion uniting all hearts, making all one, drawing away from everything personal, everything sectional. Now when the heart is centered upon the Lord Jesus, we have the greatest power and dynamic against division, against separateness, against everything that keeps us apart, and when the Lord Jesus is our central, supreme object, and it is toward Him that our hearts go out, then we come into a unity. You cannot have personal interests and at the same time care for the interests of the Lord. David makes that perfectly clear. "The tabernacle of my house," that is one thing; and if I consider that, then I shall not be set upon a house for the Lord; if I am set upon that, then I shall not find a place for the Lord's rest. If I am seeking to satisfy my desire, giving sleep to my eyes, and slumber to my eyelids, then the Lord's interests will take a second place. But when I set myself aside, with all that is personal, and I am centered upon the Lord, and when all the others do that too, we shall find our perfect uniting center in Christ. That is what it is to dwell in unity.

Now Ephesians four is the great New Testament exposition of Psalm one hundred and thirty-three: "There is one body ..." Read the passage without the italicized words: "...Giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace ... one body, and one Spirit ... one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is over all, and through all, and in all" (verses 3-6). Oneness in Christ as a body fitly framed together is what is portrayed. How is this perfect unity reached? By all that is individual and personal being left, by the Lord being the focal center, and by our giving diligence to maintain the unity in that way; keeping all personal things out, and keeping Christ and His interests always in view: "... till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man ..." (verse 13). Dwelling together in unity in that way, is the result of His being the sole and central object of all our concerns. This is not visionary, imaginative, merely idealistic, it is very practical. You and I will discover that there are working elements of divisiveness, things creeping in among us to set us apart. The enemy is always seeking to do that, and the things that rise up to get in between the Lord's people and put up a barrier are countless; a sense of strain and of distance, for example of discord and of unrelatedness.  Sometimes they are more of an abstract character; that is, you can never lay your hand upon them and explain them, and say what they are; it is just a sense of something. Sometimes it is more positive, a distinct and definite misunderstanding, a misinterpretation of something said or done, something laid old of; and of course, it is always exaggerated by the enemy.

How is that kind of thing to be dealt with in order to keep the unity of the Spirit? Rightly, adequately on this basis alone, by our saying: 'This is not to the Lord's interests; this can never be of value to the Lord; this can never be to His glory and satisfaction; this can only mean injury to the Lord.' What I may feel in the matter is not the vital consideration. I may even be the wronged party, but am  I going to feel wronged and hurt? Am I going to stand on my dignity? Am I going to shut myself up and go away, because I have been wronged? That is how nature would have it, but I must take this attitude: 'The Lord stands to lose, the Lord's Name stands to suffer, the Lord's interests are involved in this; I must shake this thing off and not allow it to affect my attitude, my conduct, my feelings towards this brother or sister!' There must be the putting aside of that which we feel, and even of our rights for the Lord's sake, and a getting on top of this enemy effort to injure the Lord's testimony. That is giving diligence to keep the unity. That is the power of a victory over divisiveness, and is the victory for unity, and there the Lord commands the blessing. That is the way of eternal life. The other way is manifestly the way of death, and that is what the enemy is after. Until that difference is cleared up, all is death, all is withered and blighted. life is by unity, and unity can only adequately be found in Christ being in His place as the One for Whom we let go everything that is personal. We might not do it for the sake of anyone else. We might never do it for the sake of the person in view. We do it for HIS sake, and the enemy is defeated. There the Lord commands the blessing.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 48)

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