I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ~ Ephesians 4:1-3
If you haven’t noticed yet, each of us have this innate belief that we can determine what is good and evil better than the next guy. In life, we try to bring others to our way of belief with some success. This is one of the reasons why we have so many different groups of thought and practice. Even in Christian circles, it is estimated that we have over 30,000 denominations worldwide, each with a particular set of beliefs that sets them apart from the rest.
Today, I want to focus on the family of God. I sense in my spirit that God has a serious request for us. He is requesting a greater unity among his people in this last age. A unity that was represented in such an incredible way in the first days and weeks of the church described by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. Luke records that the small, but powerful, assembly of God’s people were of one mind and one heart. Of course, it did not take long for man to muddy up the water. However, I still love to ponder what the atmosphere must have been like.
First, Luke tells us that they were all devoted to the teaching of the Apostles and to the fellowship. At that time there was not a different church on every corner. If someone heard or saw something they didn’t agree with, or needed something more exciting, they couldn’t just switch churches. This group was bonded together, with one faith, to one God and Father, to the Son, sealed and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
We also read in Acts how the early community of faith often remembered the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, accomplished with the bread and cup and spending time in prayer. They were loyal and steadfast to the Apostles and their teachings; this provided a solid foundation that resulted in the people locking arms and loving each other no matter the circumstances. The results were a perfect atmosphere where God moved in ways that created awe and wonder in the eyes of everyone.
Those that were true and faithful believers were in covenant with God in the light of complete unity. They had all things in common and thought others and their needs were much more important than their own. Even as the duties of their earthly life continued, they looked forward to gathering together daily in the synagogue to hear God’s Word and share meals together in their homes. This unity so permeated the fellowship that Luke described their lives as having glad and generous hearts, praising God and enjoyed favor with all people. Then something strange happened. Luke writes “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.“
It should be common knowledge that if you want to destroy anything whether it be a nation, relationship, or even a community of faith, find a way to divide and then you can conquer. I would personally rank division, strife, jealousy and dissension as the top enemies of our Creator and all that he has created. The reason should be obvious that in an atmosphere of confusion, strife, and division, man cannot accomplish much and neither can God the Father.
Listen to the words of scripture as it reveals the nature of this enemy called division.
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
1 Corinthians 11:18
For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you.
1 Corinthians 12:25
…that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him…
It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.
To be completely realistic, keeping unity is work and it takes a devoted effort to be led by God’s Spirit to maintain genuine unity. Being in unity does not mean we will see and understand everything in the same light at the same time. The only way we will experience unity in the family of God is to have a daily reliance on the Holy Spirit. He will knit our hearts and minds together, even in spite of personal disagreement. It is our unity with the Spirit of God that keeps the bond of peace alive. Yes, it takes patience, humility, and forbearance with each other, but we must make it our pursuit to keep this unity sacred.
A branch cannot bear fruit without being connected to the vine, and it is so with each of us. As we live and function in unity as the extension of Jesus to the world around us, others in the world are able to see the goodness and favor of God. We can only hope they will have a desire to believe and be saved.
God’s great desire is to restore and unite all of creation again under his rule and kingdom, and each of us has a part in this grand pursuit.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!