The church: working toward unity within the body of Christ.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity! Ps 133:1

Unity. This seems impossible in our world filled with hatred, animosity, fear and distrust. But you know what I realized today? We are not OF this world! Of course, I knew this already. However, I never thought of it in terms of unity. Why does it make a difference if we are of this world or not?

  • this world is not our home
  • this world is perishing, we are imperishable
  • this world hates God and everything that is His, us included
  • this world does not define us

How does unity play a part in The Church: Building Bridges Among the Body of Christ?

Well, unity is the glue that holds us together. And unity is made up of 2 things: faith and love.

I’ve been looking at Ephesians 4 lately as it came up in a recent Sunday School lesson as it relates to Ps 133. Let me just share some of it here.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. vs 1-3

Can I just say this? I am afraid that most of us in the church (as in the body of Christ) have NOT obeyed verse 3. We have NOT been diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Now, unity is not the same as uniformity. Uniformity means that we “put on” being all the same – like a uniform. As believers, we are NOT the same. Scripture is abundantly clear on that. We have different gifts, different ministries, different effects. Even those with the same gift will use them in different ways. This is one reason why every single one of us is vital to the overall growth and maturity of the church as a whole.

But let’s look at little bit at unity.

  • Unity does not mean that we never disagree.
  • Unity does not mean that we are all the same.
  • Unity is from the Spirit.
  • Unity is based on our faith in Jesus.
  • Unity binds us together.
  • Unity brings peace.

Dangers of not preserving unity.

Have you ever noticed that we still feel the effects of the fall? We still have strife, hatred, jealousy, greed, pride and division. And unfortunately, not just in the world. These things all invade the church as well. Partly because we are each on a different path toward sanctification and maturity. But also partly because the enemy is working overtime to destroy the power of the church.

Think about it. The church was given the Great Commission to share the gospel to every nation and to build disciples, teaching all the things Jesus taught. The enemy is scared out of his socks that we might actually fulfill this! There have been times in our history when the church was strong and mighty in the Spirit. It was generally under great persecution but it prevailed. It had to be united to survive. All the saints needed one another and laid aside squabbles.

But when we do not act diligently to preserve that unity of the Spirit, we become divided. We become haughty on all sides of the divide. In that haughtiness, pride and bitterness take a strong root in our hearts. We reject those who are not just like us; those who do not have uniformity to look and act and speak just like us.

We become servants of our enemy and reject the work of the cross to create the One United Body of Christ. In our pride to have the corner on the truth, we slip into the lie that we don’t need anyone who is not like us.

I don’t know about you, but this possibility scares the pants off of me!

  • I do NOT want to be that believer who rejects another saint who has been redeemed by the blood of the Lord.
  • I don’t want to be the one who lifts up division as a banner and weakens the universal church.
  • I don’t want to be the one who puts more stock in being right than in being righteous.

Maybe each one of us, each believer, needs to examine our hearts to see if we are purposely looking to thwart the work of the Spirit in building unity.

How can we preserve unity?

If unity isn’t uniformity; seeking to all be the same… if unity means we can be different then how will it look? How do we deal with those differences yet still be in unity of the Spirit?

It’s OK to go to different churches and worship with saints who are like-minded in doctrine. But how do we deal with those who hold very different views from us? Let’s look again at the scriptures.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. vs. 4-7

We need to remember.

Like Mufasa told Simba… remember! We need to remember who we are. We are one body; the body of Christ. Our unity is in one Spirit; the Spirit of God Himself. God called us in one calling for salvation through our one Lord, Jesus. He baptized us into one spiritual baptism at our conversion. And over all of this, there is one God and Father.

Oh my word! Look at all the things that unite us!

How many times over the years have you met someone – maybe on a bus, maybe in a grocery store or at a soccer game – and just KNOW they are a believer? Your spirit awakens to the Spirit of God in them. You don’t know their doctrines or affiliations. But you KNOW they are connected to you. Isn’t that a huge joy? You talk about Jesus and share a sweet unity of the Spirit.

How good and pleasant this is, for brothers to dwell together in unity!

A time and place for dialogue.

There is a time and a place for dialogue and disagreements. But the problem is not with this dialogue. The problem comes when sin creeps into our hearts: the sins of pride and arrogance in our rightness and their wrongness. Do we approach dialogue with a heart to understand? Do we step into discussion with another believer with the expectation that by the power of the Spirit we can grow closer together? Or are we setting ourselves apart, aloof, thinking that we are so much better, so much wiser, so much more righteous because WE have the corner on truth?

As a redeemed Critical Person, I can tell you that place of pride/arrogance is a lonely place and one that the Lord may slap you upside the head with a 2 by 4 to move you out of.  That kind of attitude kills unity because it sets us apart. It puffs up and never builds up. It is not rooted in love.

The goal of our instruction is love.

All that we say, all that we do, all that we think or believe – the goal (or final hoped for outcome) is love.

Let’s begin today to let love guide us into deeper depths of unity among the whole body of Christ. Let’s learn to live in humility, grace and love.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.
Photo by Henry Be on Unsplash
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