Unity in Diversity
Understanding Victory Outreach Principles and Values*Defined:
Values—has to do with something’s worth, importance, usefulness; In our case these values motivate us and give us the reasons why we do what we do.
- Victory Outreach thinks that people are valuable because they are created in the “image of God;” because of this Victory Outreach believes that God has given us a Cause for our existence as a ministry (Army); i.e. a purpose and a vision to reach the lost and hurting people of the world with the gospel message.
- Victory Outreach thinks that the second greatest commandment, “to love your neighbor as yourself,” is especially valuable to the fellowship of believers for salvation and as a witness to the world that we are disciples of Christ; so our goal is to build a Community (Family) grounded in love. A place where people can be encouraged and built-up, corrected and rebuked, cared for and supported until we all grow to be like Jesus.
- Victory Outreach believes that as a Corporation (Business) it is important to be good stewards over what God has given us, so we value good Business and good business prac tices; our goal is to build a good, solid corporation that excels in everything it does (quality/excel). We believe that a good business will excel when its people are accountable, responsible, and stable (faithful/loyal) in everything they do.
Principles—a rule or a code of conduct/behavior, it tells how; On the international level these principles are what guide us (lead the way) to do what we do. They do the same on the local level:
- Exalt—our main reason for existing is to exalt God. We want to teach our people to exalt God by living a life of worship, glorifying Him by producing the fruit of repentance and obedience to His Word in everything we do.
- Envision—we must be a ministry that is focused on fulfilling the great commission, and vision is what keeps us from stepping outside our power spot; we want to make sure our people can see the need and challenge them to meet the need by reaching out to make disciples of the lost and hurting people of the world through building and encouraging them to grow towards maturity; i.e. becoming more like Jesus.
- Establish—we want to make sure that our people get deeply rooted and grounded in their faith (their Christianity) through participating in the hands-on ministries of the local church (family). We teach them to glorify God through loving and serving others by taking ownership and treating each ministry as their own. On an international level, we make sure our people know that they are a part of something by co-operating with the corporate office and our Regional pastors, and by participating in the international ministries creating a sense of belonging.
- Equip—at the local level, through discipleship we make sure our people are continually growing and developing into mature, Christian people. We want to teach our people the “full counsel of God” and by striving to fulfill the “Great Commission” to “teach them to obey everything that I have commanded.”
- Evangelize—we equip our people to reach out to the lost and hurting people of the world by creating opportunities to go back into the neighborhoods and tell people about Jesus. Through hands-on ministry we give them spiritual tools and show them the methods and sources available to them for reaching the lost.
If Victory Outreach is going to be a fruitful ministry then the values of “reaching the lost,” “family,” and “quality work” have to become their primary/main values; and, they have to make sure that the fivefold principles/guides of ministry (E’s) are always balanced. If these are not kept in balance:
- Worship leaders would make us all worshipers and there would be no outreach
- Administrative people would have all building ways to meet the need but there would be no inward growth.
- Pastors would be opening our eyes to the needs of others but have no way to meet those needs
- Teachers would have us all learning the truths of God’s Word but there would be no outward growth.
- The Evangelist would have us sharing the message of Jesus everywhere but there would be no place to take them once they have been saved.
The role of the equipping ministry is not to teach you what to do, it is to teach you how to “be” what you are, Christian. In other words, equipping you for ministry is not teaching you methods, you learn methods through the hands on ministries of the church. Equipping you for ministry means building your character. To me this is the most important of the five ministries but then, I am a teacher. But so was Jesus:
NLT Luke 10:38 “ 38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord's feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me." 41 But the Lord said to her, "My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her."
I want to re-emphasize that these principles should all be kept in balance, but remember, whatever character you have is what you take with you when you serve in these other ministries.
- Good character = good quality in ministry
- If you’re passionate about serving God, it will show when you serve others, you will be concerned about the quality of ministry
- Bad character = bad quality in ministry
- If you have no compassion your service will just be a burden to you and you wouldn’t care how it is done or what the outcome may be.
Every leader of Victory Outreach has to remember that God is more interested in who you are than in what you do; He is more concerned about the condition of your heart than He is about the condition of the ministry you serve in.
Leaders will be equipped for any ministry, and will equip others, if they can learn how to “be” Christian. Being Christian means being obedient to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth. This opens the door for you to be an instrument to equip others for ministry rather than just training them to do the ministry, and anyone equipped for ministry does not need training to show that he is.
- The difference is like having a clean shirt on and having a clean heart, you may look good with the clean shirt on but it will do you no good without a clean heart, and a clean heart doesn’t need a clean shirt to reveal itself to anyone.
- It is the difference between an inward work and an outward work.
Leaders in Victory Outreach have to be able to determine whether they are training outwardly or are equipping inwardly. We can see how important this is by looking at the one thing that will destroy the church before it gets started, division in the church.
- In his letter to the Corinthians Paul is concerned because he had heard that the church was being divided because of jealousy and conflict among them.
- Jealous = the common understanding is that its when a person does not put up with a rivalry or who is suspicious and hostile towards rivalry;
- but it is interesting to me to notice that it also can mean being hostile towards someone we think has an advantage (like a person who is raised up as a leader) or it means someone who wants to protect what they have (like a position, or their comfort zone).
- Paul teaches them to value Unity by reminding them that although they have different leaders among them each of those leaders have the same purpose in mind. Leaders are fellow workers that God uses as His instruments, but God brings the increase. Each leader should be careful how he builds because his work will be tested to see if it holds up against the struggles and difficulties of Christian life. Then, keeping in mind that the church is being divided, Paul reminds them that the people are God’s temple and he warns them to remember that God will destroy anyone who deliberately destroys His people.
- NLT 1 Corinthians 3:16 Don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God's temple is holy(sacred), and you are that temple.
- Paul describes the purpose of the church in the letter to the Ephesians and he reveals the things that will bring division in the church. In order to avoid division he exhorts them not to live as the Gentiles live and that means living a life of repentance, not thinking like the them.
- He then goes on to show what the enemy uses to bring division in the church in Ephesians chapters 4b-6a. One of his biggest concerns is gossip and slander in the church, the same kind that was going on in the Corinthian church, and he challenges them with these words:
- NIV Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
- Some people think that verse 25 means that they could say anything they want to say as long as they are speaking the truth. But the scripture is telling us to speak truthfully “to” our neighbors and not “about” our neighbors. It is saying be open and truthful about yourself, not putting on a mask to hide who you really are.
- Slander is not just telling lies that are about someone. It is telling the truth about someone that no one needs to hear.
- Don’t forget that God looks at the motivation of the heart and truth that is meant to do harm will destroy the temple of the living God. It is one of the quickest ways to divide the church and destroy it. This is why Paul tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
- The basic teaching in these passages is that we all must learn to accept one another with all our differences. Unity comes when the leaders recognize that differences will always exist as long as we live in this age and as long as we have these bodies.
The challenge for leaders is to learn how to handle the differences within the community of believers; like a coach who learns how to handle the different talents on his team, not changing their talent to conform, but finding where it fits best to unite the team together as one.
- Leaders who want unity and have made up their minds to serve God and glorify Him have to acknowledge that man (even men of God) are not infallible and Scripture is our only authority.
- Only God is absolute truth. Only His thoughts alone are true, and He has recorded His thoughts plainly and sufficiently in the Scripture. Unity will come when we learn to conform our thoughts to His Word (taking every thought captive 2 Cor. 10:5).
- If we do not agree on the authority of God's Word, then there is no basis for fellowship in Victory Outreach, there is no reason for us to exist together. Without a basis for fellowship we would only be able to be like Israel in the book of Judges, “each doing as he saw fit.”
- Where ever God has spoken clearly in Scripture leaders are required to obey it and have to stand together on it. The Word of God is our only hope.
- The more we allow the New Testament to control us, the more we will be able to correct our assumptions, our inherited opinions, our hand-me-down traditions, and our so often mistaken conclusions. (there are many; it is why we do theology)
- To encourage unity, Leaders (and those being led) must settle the issue within in their hearts, to allow God’s Word to instruct, rebuke, and fill them, i.e. to let it be the “authority” they turn to for guidance and correction, while at the same time they are learning to appreciate, accept and love one another
- In other words, they have to let the Holy Spirit convict them of their own sin, i.e. to see the beam in their own eye.
- NLT Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others.1 The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.2 3 "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye1 when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend,1 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye. 6 "Don't waste what is holy on people who are unholy.1 Don't throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.
- Not so they can correct others, but so they can “feel” their brothers struggle (sympathize), so that they might learn to love and accept both the weaker and the stronger brothers.
- God says that we must strive for unity at all cost.
Unity is not Uniformity
Uniformity means to conform to one standard or rule; “being the same” as another or others with no differences or disagreements.
- This standard is narrow and exclusive, separating and dividing rather than gathering together. “If you don’t meet this standard than you don’t belong, you’re not one of us.”
Paul tells us that God is revealed in creation. Through creation, we can clearly see that unity is made up of many different things.
- There is diversity within the unity of all created things, i.e. we can find many differences, and variations that are under the control of the laws of nature that bring them together (birds, flowers, and sunsets).
We can conclude then, that God’s spiritual creation is also a diversity within unity.
- Even in the Godhead, we find diversity in unity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Or we can look at Scripture and find that God has created one unified body of Christ with many different parts.
- I think it is safe to say that unity is clearly not uniformity.
By its very definition we can see that uniformity will bring division within the body of Christ. Why? God did not create us all the same.
- There are many of us who think that unity means that we all think the same, act the same, dress same, believe same, etc. but as you can see that is not unity that is uniformity.
- Insisting on uniformity will divide the church because that would mean that we are excluding people (leaving them out) or alienating them from the fellowship.
Unity (accord, agreement, harmony) means the condition/state of being one; combining or joining separate things to form one entity; Combining or joining separated things to form one whole or complete form; single-mindedness among individuals or groups.
- Unity by its definition is a mixture of different assumptions, conclusions, opinions, and traditions.
- Notice that unity means although we act differently, think differently, dress differently, or believe differently we are joined for one purpose/one vision.
- Unity means learning to accept our differences and disagreements.
- Insisting on unity will hold the church together because that would mean we are accepting and including people into our fellowship.
This is what Paul teaches us in Romans 12.
NIV Romans 12:5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
In Ephesians 4 Paul teaches us that unity is given by the Spirit
NIV Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
- So unity is an inward work through the Spirit. On the other hand, Uniformity is an outward work through man.
- Paul tells us that the Spirit of God brings together a diversity of people (Jews—worshiped as Jews; Gentiles—worshiped as Gentiles, yet they were One Faith)
Paul goes on to teach us that we must do all we can do to hold on to the different kinds of people that the Spirit brings together.
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
He tells us to hold on to each other until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature.
- In other words, until all our different beliefs and all our different knowledge of God grows us and makes us mature. (maturity means completely measuring up to the full standard of Christ)
Notice that maturity does not mean we have arrived, it means we are all going about the business of building the body of Christ to look like Jesus.
15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
When we are busy building up Victory Outreach instead of tearing it down, we will grow up to be like Christ.
The point of all this is to show that the inward work of God is more valuable than the outward work of man.
You see we could train you to stay away from bad influences and we could make sure you do all things the Victory Outreach way, and, we could make sure that all the right principles and all the right people influence you. But this kind of training will not change your inner nature nor can it give life because it depends on natural laws .
The inward nature can only be changed through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who transcends nature, and as we will discover in future lessons, God’s word is empowered by the Holy Spirit to do just that.
NIV Acts 20:32 "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.