“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter, ” or “I follow only Christ.” Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not! I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, for now no one can say they were baptized in my name. (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.) For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power. The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:10-18 NLT
Unity - United and joined as a whole! That's what we are to be as the body of Jesus Christ. We are to represent One Lord!
“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.”
Ephesians 4:3-6 NLT
God never intended the church to be divided. The divisions we see in denominations are man's creation. There are schools of thought concerning certain doctrinal matters that has caused the distinctions we see in the church world. Whether it is about modes of baptism or predestination there is so much that has drawn lines between those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Sure, we must be absolutely persuaded in the essentials of Christian doctrine. We cannot allow false teaching to invade the ranks of the church. Satan would like to do nothing more than deceive people with something that masks itself as truth when it is really falsehood. We must contend for the faith that has been delivered to us from ages past!!
“Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Jude 1:3-4 NLT
False teaching must be vehemently rejected!
In regard to unity, we must work hard to maintain union with those who have the foundational principles of the faith correct. Those who are teaching Biblical truth and are striving to serve our One and only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, are our brothers and sisters. We are not many faiths. We are one church! Yes, we have preferential procedures and practices but we must be joined at the core of our faith. When the fundamental doctrines of Christian faith and practice are in place we can qualify those people as family of God!
We are called to be the salt and light of the world (see Matthew 5:13-16). Jesus prayed for unity among His followers in John 17 prior to His arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
“Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
John 17:11, 20-23 NLT
Notice how many times Jesus emphasized unity. This was important to Him as He prepared to leave these disciples to accomplish the task of taking the gospel to the world. Unity among the true believers is very important to God!
Listen to this:
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
Ephesians 4:11-16 NLT
Unity among the family of God is a beautiful thing.
“How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.”
Psalms 133:1-3 NLT
Harmony doesn't mean that we all sing the same part. Harmony means that we all sing the same song as we do our assigned parts. There is a stark contrast between unity and uniformity. Unity is the body of Christ in action, serving God efficiently and effectively as we all learn our part and fulfill it well. The misuse of uniformity is trying to make every part look and act the same. We all have our styles, personalities, individual uniqueness, talents, and gifts. Some share very similar traits just like the singers in a choir. There are several bass, tenor, alto, and soprano singers. They all sing the same song. Each group sings the same part. When they wear choir robes they all look alike. This is the proper use of unity and uniformity together. Each category of singers does their part while the others do theirs. At the same time, they all represent one choir. May God help us, as His church, to stay true to His Word, know our respective roles, serve well, and work together. In Jesus name!!! Amen!
Curtis R. Norris
Rev. Curtis Norris