“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:5-7).
At CBA we’ve adopted this Scr ipture as the foundation for our work over the past few months as we’re planning the UNITE 2016 convention and beyond. It’s a good reminder that, in our work within the association as well as within the industry, we bring glory to God by being aligned, accepting, and united in our mission. That’s what makes “UNITE ” the perfect message for where we are today and what we need to do to overcome the challenges before us and continue to do Great Commission work around the world. And this was confirmed in unexpected ways halfway around the world at the CBA MarketSquare Budapest event last month.
Whenever I travel internationally, I gain insights and perspective that I don’t get here in the U.S. This year, I came away amazed at not only the dedication and perseverance of Christian product distributors who are working under tremendously difficult—and often perilous—circumstances, but also the advancement of the Gospel that occurs when the Christian church, publishers, and booksellers work together. In some parts of Eastern Europe in particular, the interdependency of these groups is so intertwined, it would be difficult to tell where one group’s work ends and another’s begins—like the “one body with many parts” described in 1 Corinthians 12.
We could learn a few lessons from our brothers and sisters around the world. Though they may not have a wealth of physical resources and technologies at their fingertips, many have discovered the greatest resources in the strength of their faith and their relationships with one another. They’re united in their work because the mission is practically indistinguishable from one group to the next and they need each other or they will fail.
This is no less true in the U.S.—the mission of the church, product suppliers, creators, and distributors is the same—but we’ve somehow lost sight of how much we need each other to advance the mission. God is still at work in each of us who is called to advance the Gospel. He doesn’t need us to be in unity—but unity greases the wheels of our work and makes the load lighter. As I observed in parts of Eastern Europe, when the Body works together many advances are made. And when the Body is fractured, the Gospel might still advance—but the work is slower and much more difficult.
When people limit what they see and believe, they don’t see the potential or the broader possibilities of what could be. They can’t change and they die.
People are hurting and hungering for God’s truth around the globe. The need everywhere is as great as ever. By the work of the church and Christian-product creators, suppliers, and distributors, the seeds of His Word are sown into the world—and by God’s grace, some are finding good soil. Those who receive His Word are the fruit of our labor—and this fruit multiplies when there’s unity in the Body.
Let’s not only work with each other but alongside one another, partnering together in ways we never have before. Let’s remember we’re part of the same Body and we’re on the same team. And when we’re in unity, amazing things happen.