1 Corinthians 1:10, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."
Have you ever been a part of a team? Maybe it was little league baseball, junior high field hockey, or maybe you were in the high school marching band. If you’ve ever been on a team, you know that unity is an important element of the team; when you’re all working together to accomplish the same goal, things tend to work out. On the other hand, when there is division among the team, the chances of success are slim.
A.W. Tozier wrote, “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same tuning fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” This quote really caught me off guard when I first read it; I’ve heard sermon after sermon about how we are supposed to strive to be unified and do our best not to offend those around us. These things are true, but when you look at the idea of unity through a different lens, when you realize that unity is achieved by getting closer to Christ rather than closer to each other, it changes everything.
Unity in the body of Christ isn’t accomplished simply by deferring to one another (while that may help); rather, unity in the body of Christ is accomplished by deferring to God.
Growing up, I was blessed to have two older brothers. I’m not sure a day went by when we didn’t have some sort of argument, especially when we went somewhere as a family in the cab of my dad’s ’06 Chevy Silverado. Of course, because I was the youngest, I got the middle seat in the back which meant I got to have the green apple morning breath of one brother, while the other had his elbow in my hip. Many arguments were had in the back of this truck, but somehow we always got to our destination and we still loved each other. Unity doesn’t mean you won’t have disagreements or enjoy everything, but when we all work together to accomplish the same goal, those disagreements won’t be as explosive or cause division.
When Paul wrote to the churches in his epistles, he knew there were two different groups of people: the Jews and the Gentiles. These were two groups of people that would have typically never joined together in anything…until Jesus. Paul knew the strongest force of unity was found in the bond we have together through Christ.
One of my favorite passages about unity is in Ephesians 4:1-6: "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."
If we look at what Paul focuses on to achieve unity and put it into practice, I know we can all do the same. In verse 2, we see instruction on how to approach anything that could cause division and then in verse 3 Paul uses the word “endeavoring” which could also be translated as zealously, eagerly, and quickly applying one’s self. This means that when controversy arises, we should first be humble and, in love, be quick to find a resolution. Verses 4-6 are vital to this process: they tell us where we can find the answer to any issue that may arise. If we can remember that we all worship and serve the same God, we were all saved from our sin by the same Savior, and we are all adopted into one family together, we can achieve unity together unlike any other.
Over the coming months, a lot of decisions will be made that, perhaps, you disagree with. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing, but as soon as that causes unity to disappear, our eyes are off God and onto our own selfish ambitions. I challenge all Christians (including myself!) to zealously, quickly, and eagerly work to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.