Unity is one of the most difficult states to pursue. Because our agendas never line up exactly, someone always has to set aside his or her own desire to unite with a person or a group. To pursue unity together each person needs to choose humility. Its a two way street, contingent on the Holy Spirit’s work in each of our lives. Part of Christian unity is intentionally allowing love to win instead of secondary theological, philosophical, and political agendas.
Ephesians 4:1-6 remind us of this very important task of unity. “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received,
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope at your calling — 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. — Ephesians 4:1-6 (CSB) What is important to note about this text is three things it teaches us when pursuing unity.
1. Consider your Calling: If you bear the name of Christ as a Christian then we must consider our calling to Christ. As his disciple there is nothing more great or noble than identifying ourselves as a Christian. Therefore when we consider our calling we remind ourselves that we are to emulate the same attitude of Christ and model the servant-hood example to people.
2. Consider your Character: The words humility, gentleness, patience, and love should help us understand that these character attributes serves as tools that help lead toward unity. When you are able to see others as more important than yourself you are demonstrating humility. When you seek to reconcile someone who is difficult with gentleness, patience and love you are modeling the Christlike nature of grace in someone’s life. People don’t drift toward unity but away from it. Part of maintaining unity sometimes means having difficult conversations. As believers we must commit to high character in order to reconcile differences and preserve unity.
3. Consider your Confession: Verses 4-6 speak about the confession we have as believer that there is one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father who is above all. When maintaining unity we should focus on what really unites us. What unites believers is the confession we hold to as believers. There is a one-ness language for a reason. Paul knew that the church could be divided on a multitude of levels if the focus was not on what unified them. This is especially true for us today. Our world has certainly seen its share of divide over secondary issues. But the Scripture is calling us to unite around our confession.
When our churches bicker and complain against one another, we show ourselves to be no different from our culture. But when our churches function together in unity, we paint a picture to the world of a good God who loves his people. A unified church is attractive to a lost world.