The High Calling Of Unity
Unity is fragile. It is the necessary commodity of all healthy relationships. Jesus said where two or more are gathered in his name he would be in their midst. When a husband and wife, parent and children, family, business partners, neighbors, schools, or the church acknowledge the name of Christ he is with them. But the presence of Jesus, as wonderful as it is, often isn't enough to keep the bonds of unity from unraveling. Spouses divorce, children rebel, and churches split over the smallest of issues. Sin creeps in and we abandon unity for convenience. We rationalize our behavior by elevating our reason above the word of God.
The one reason people give in the church for leaving that disturbs me the most is "I am leaving for the sake of unity. I don't want to cause any divisions." But God never calls us to leave a church for the sake of Unity. He calls us to have Unity. We are to maintain unity in the midst of disagreement. We are to strive for unity in the midst of failure and sin. In the United Sates it is easy to for go this important aspect of body life because we can always go to another church. Lack of unity and the refusal to fight for it is contrary to the will of God.
Jesus said that the world will know us because of our love for one another. Our love is an expression of God's character, and where two or more are gathered his love is manifest. When Paul told the Ephesians to walk in a manner worthy of their calling he was talking about unity, getting along, practicing love, offering and asking for forgiveness, and extending grace and mercy. It means tolerating others political and social views, speaking the truth in love, overlooking offensive behaviors, speech and attitudes for the sake of unity.
Unity doesn't come easy it requires humility and gentleness, patience and love. These characteristics are not the manner of walk that is worthy of our calling. They are necessary tools by which unity is maintained. In our rush to judge the sins of others we wag our fingers in self righteous condemnation. We use the word of God as a hammer, and expect people to change over night. We say it is loving when we bring to light what we believe are the flaws and missteps of others, and then turn our backs on them when they don't change they way we believe they should. We must maintain purity, both doctrinally and morally. That begs the question, "Unity at all cost?" Are there times when we should break the unity, expel the transgressor and walk away for the doctrinally errant?
The short answer is yes, but it isn't the first answer. The first answer should be directed to these questions, What have I done to maintain the unity of the Spirit? How have I humbly, patiently, gently, and lovingly endured for the sake of Unity? What have I sacrificed for what Christ died for? Have I forgiven 70 times 7? Have I sought reconciliation? Have I extended mercy over and over again? The easy route is to find a group of people just like me, who think like me, talk like me, and believe like me.
My son and his family live in the Middle East and attend a church of Expats. They come from all over the world and the one thing they have in common is their faith in Jesus. From my perspective most of them have faulty eschatology, ecclesiology, views on social issues, and science and religion. Yet they come together for worship, fellowship, and outreach. They have to maintain the Spirit of Unity because they have very few choices. I have met with and fellowshipped with them and they are some of the most loving people I have ever met. They, by necessity, have learned to keep the Unity of the Spirit.
When we have this kind of attitude we become eager to maintain unity. We hunger for it because true fellowship is life. We thirst for it because it is a spring of living water in Christ. We fight for it because the enemy would like nothing more then to see the church fail. We rest in it because true peace isn't the absence of conflict but the assurance that God is on control
Unity is fragile but our strength comes for The Lord. Unity can only be maintained by walking in the Spirit and seeing the Spirit in one another. How is your walk today? Is it worthy of the calling by which you have been called? I am just saying...
Eph. 4:1-3 "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."