When I was asked to write an article on ‘Unity’ I gave my usual “sure no worries” answer and went about my day. A month of absolute writer’s block made me realise that sharing something encouraging on this issue, in this current climate, is potentially more of a challenge than I originally thought.
Why? Because while we are seeing so much going on in the world these days, ‘Unity’ is not one of them.
Actually, if there is one thing that is glaringly obvious these days it is that, for the most part, we are NOT united. Not as a culture. Not as a gender. Not as a community. Not as a country… Not even as a church!
This can be said for any nation, in any country, all over the world. In fact, everywhere we turn we are bombarded with the opposite of unity, harmony, or cooperation. Instead, what we are seeing clearly is division, fierce discord, and extreme absolutes which are tinged with an edge of anger, bitterness, violence and at times… hatred!
In a time where it seems most important to have respectful conversations, where we would benefit most from listening to and considering the experience and perspective of others, we are doing the exact opposite.
Having a difference of opinion of movements, political parties, and the words and actions of influential people in all facets of society is now something that cannot be looked past. Passion fueled arguments are erupting even amongst the best of friends and in the closest of families.
We need unity so desperately
Unity. In a time when we need it so desperately, it is so scarce… It is something Jesus felt strongly enough about to speak on.
He prayed in John 17: 21 that believers “…may be one Father, just as You are in Me, and I am in You…” and through this unity, the world would believe.
Speaking with a friend on the topic, he wisely reminded me that as believers our greatest example of unity is in the trinity. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three very different entities, co-existing in true unity. He also raised the point, that the most frequently used plan of attack throughout history is the age-old strategy: Divide & Conquer.
This tactic has been as successful on the battlefield, as it was in the garden of Eden. The division has ultimately resulted in humanities failure. In fact, in Matt 12:25 Jesus shares about the failure that comes from division, stating that cities and households divided against themselves, will not stand.
What is achieved through Unity?
In contrast to this, we read throughout the bible accounts of what is achieved through unity.
When the disciples were gathered together praying in Acts 4, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and went on to preach the word of God with boldness. In Ezra 3:9 Joshua, his sons, brothers, and other members of the tribe of Levi united to build the house of God together. 2 Chronicles 5:13, tells us how the unity of the musicians’ praise and worship resulted in the tangible, visible, presence of God.
What does all that mean?
Well, what I don’t think it means is that we all suddenly have to subscribe to particular views depending on our nationality, skin colour, or gender.
I don’t think it even means as Christians we should all agree depending on popular opinion, or the latest, trendiest, theology.In the Bible, God moved most powerfully when His people were united in purpose! Click To Tweet
In the Bible, God moved most powerfully when His people were united in purpose: Prayer. Worship. Building the house of God, etc… The individuals involved weren’t all the same, but they were united in focus on a God-given purpose.
Unity in the Body
I believe operating in unity as the body of Christ requires a few things:
As Christians all our opinions should be determined through the perspective of our faith, time in prayer, and the word of God.
Colossians 2:8 reminds us not to be captured with “empty philosophies and high- sounding nonsense that come from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than Christ”.We should all be focused on God-given purpose, kingdom perspective, and the ultimate commission of spreading the gospel, despite our individual differences. Click To Tweet
In the words of Dr Tony Evans: “Unity is not uniformity or sameness. Rather Jesus was talking about being unified in God and His purposes… we have the common purpose of proclaiming the gospel and pursuing God’s kingdom agenda.”
In situations where we differ in our points of view, let’s conduct ourselves “… in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…” as we are encouraged to do in Philippians 1:27.
When we speak to each other, and to unbelievers, let’s be the “salt” we are called to be, and season our words with lots of grace. Speaking in love. Walking in peace. Responding in all circumstances in a way that reflects the spirit of the One we serve, so the world can see Jesus heart through our actions.
To always imitate Christ!
“…Being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” Philippians 2:2-4.
In humility. The key to unity is humbly, and lovingly, seeking harmony without arrogance or excessive pride, and to always walk in love and peace.
Let’s follow Jesus command in John 13:34- 35 “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”
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