When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors, and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house-C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
I recently got a hold of Rend Collective’s new album- As Family We Go. The album basically gears towards togetherness as a body, Friendships and the aspect of family. After listening to the song story (with a heavy Irish accent which makes me ever so happy) I kept on thinking about Christian unity. What does God say about unity? How wide does unity stretch? What is the essence of Christian unity? We all have different purposes in life. God in His word affirms that the plans He has for us are plans that will give us a hope and a future. Plans for good and not to harm us. Although we have been called to different niches and corners of the world we have a universal purpose. To spread the word of God. To make known His love to the world. To make disciples. All of us are on a journey geared towards the same outcome. On this journey we have each other. To care for, admonish, laugh with, cry along and minister with. On this journey, we have been called to be of the same heart and mind which is essentially christian unity.
THROUGH THE LENSES OF THE FATHER
After the last supper with His disciples Jesus prepared his disciples for his departure. He comforted them in John 14, talked about Himself as the vine- His followers as the branches and touched on love in John 15 and finally gave His disciples warnings in John 16. Afterwards He prays for His disciples in John 17.
Bible the Message
Make them holy-consecrated-with the truth; your word is consecrating truth. In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. I’m consecrating myself for their sakes so they’ll be truth-consecrated in their mission. I’m praying not only for them but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are—I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me.
Paul in a letter to the people of Ephesus says,
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were 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.-NKJV
Christian unity is not primarily about organizational unity where we have structures and programs that we adhere to as a team, outward conformity where we all dress in a particular manner or cultural togetherness where we hold events and support them as a team or where we just basically do good together. Please note the word primarily in the beginning of this phrase. I do not discount these things; they are simply not the crux of the matter. Jesus when he prayed for the disciples prayed for one heart and one mind in regards to unity. Paul when addressing the people of Ephesus beseeched them to bear with one another in love and keep the unity of the Spirit for there is one body, one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptisism and one God. Three things come up in this context.
1. Unity begins on a heart level. It is an inside out affair.
2. There is a unity of the Spirit to be kept and it needs keeping.
3. Biblical unity is built on the truth that there is one body, one Spirit, one hope of calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God who is over all and in all.
Endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit.
Paul in Ephesians 4:3 says, “Endeavour to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” The fact that he says keep the unity establishes that we are already called into a unity divinely crafted by God once we are saved and receive the Holy Spirit. I reckon that we cannot keep the unity of the Spirit if we do not already have it. A Unity resulting from a similarity in nature. Water running out of a tap, rippling in the stream, spraying from a shower nozzle or laying stagnant in a pool claims relation/affinity with every drop of water in the world because it is the same in its elements. By virtue of having the Spirit of God, we (Christians) are in union with every other spiritual man, and this is the unity we are to Endeavour to keep.
Paul in the second part of the sentence says, “Keep the unity of the spirit”. It is not the unity of the community, unity of dressing, unity of structures or unity of denominations we are to keep, but the unity of the Spirit. Biblical Christian unity is not therefore something we can achieve by our own efforts. It comes from God and is daily sustained by the Spirit of God in us.
THE CRUX OF THE MATTER.
Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.-NKJV
The above verses primarily summarize Christian unity. It comes from God ( the God of patience and comfort), is based on Jesus Christ( grant you to be like-minded toward one another according to Christ Jesus) and results in glory to God( that you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ). Paul in the above verses is saying, God understands that accepting others as He has accepted us will not come easy. It will require Patience that He will grant us. Hence, let us not be quick to develop perceptions about other people unless we have received these perceptions from Jesus.
For us to be diligent in this, we have to pursue Jesus and acquire His mind, thoughts, and perceptions towards fellow believers. In doing so, we will end up glorifying God.
A lot of times, we are quick to form perceptions and attitudes about fellow believers that hinder us from moving together as a body. We cannot be effective as a body if our hearts about each other are not aligned in the right direction. We are quick to give excuses like, “ we have nothing in common.” or “she is too much of an introvert.” What God is saying is that we do not need to have things in common or a common interest. We are to go full out and receive fellow believers as they come. In the manner that Christ did. Which is primarily in love. Despite the flaws.
This is what it boils down to. The crux of the matter. Seeking after Jesus. Unity comes from God. Let us ever dearly seek after Him. Abide in Him. Dwell in His presence. This is what keeps the unity. This is how we become of the same mind with Christ. Constantly pursuing him. Divisions in the body do not arise from those who are bound in love from a constant and steady relationship with Jesus. It comes from dulled hearts, craving hearts and neglected closets. If we draw near to Jesus we wear His likeness and spread His Likeness and become His likeness and in the end glorify Him. Because at the end of the day if we convince the world to be like Jesus yet we do not know Our Jesus we are plainly pushy religious people. If our churches have Television broadcasts so as to be heard yet our members know not Jesus we are nothing. Seeking and knowing your (My) Jesus is the crux of the matter. It is the essence of Christian unity.