An Open Letter to My Church: Toward a Deeper Unity

Loved Ones, If there is one gem I treasure most from our life together, it is our unity.

Paul teaches that being filled with the Holy Spirit consists  in "addressing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." This Spirit-animated unity is what Paul commands us to guard and deepen (Ephesians 4.1-3; 5.18-21).

You are following Paul's teaching. You are building a community upon the gospel, and you are seeing the Spirit's blessing in specific ways.

To begin with, your unity in Christ is crossing many human barriers. Old and young sing the same songs together. All walks of life are represented among us, from the agricultural to the corporate, and this diversity of skills makes our ministry broader. The unity you have in Christ enfolds not only families from other races, but mixed-race families as well.

No one planned this diversity. It is the Spirit's blessing on your humility and love.

Your unity also reaches to past generations. You are a congregation that values the ministry of those who have gone before us, and that realizes the power of continuity from one generation to the next. You not only pursue knowledge of our church's history, but you pursue the teachings of godly thinkers from times and places that are far-off.

You believe that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is bigger than this church.

The unity you share in Christ has spread to other churches as well. You have made common plans with ministries not only in Orland, but also across the tri-counties region.

An important reason for your unity is your pursuit of sound doctrine. I am amazed and delighted at how people from many theological traditions come here to find a common body of truth in the Bible. We have Calvinists, Arminians, charismatics, Nazarenes, Lutherans, worshipers from the Church of Christ, and even a few Baptists. The desire of all is to hear the Scriptures alone.

You have not made a superficial contract to tolerate each other, with disagreements ignored or papered over. You have a settled resolution to follow Christ together.

As we have said over the past several weeks of this campaign, this is a moment to deepen our unity.

A new building will never be the source of a deeper spiritual life together. But our Father, as we venture larger work in the name of His Son, will be that source.

In the next several years, if we fix our hope on Christ as Master and Redeemer, we will see God do astounding things, and not only in providing facilities. We will see Him bring people to faith in Christ, heal marriages, and raise up new workers for His Kingdom in greater numbers than before. We will see our own doubts turned to faith, our own sins forgiven and turned to markers of the Spirit's transforming power.

We will stock a treasury of cross-purchased gems. And the One who paid at the cross will be the focus of our shared joy.

Consider your part in this work. Pray for an even deeper unity with Christ and His body. And fix your hope on Him.

In Jesus Christ,

Matthew Raley