As a kid, I was obsessed with Aesop’s Fables. I probably read our book cover to cover a hundred times! Among my favorites was The Bundle of Sticks, in which a father, fed up with his sons all quarreling, decides to teach them a lesson. He has them try to break a bundle of sticks, which of course they fail at; then he hands them each a separate stick, which they snap easily.
The lesson? In unity is strength.
It’s no surprise God has always known this, and does not keep that truth from us. Way back in Genesis 11, He said of even the evilest of people who were building a tower to Heaven, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing will be withheld from [be impossible for] them that they intend to do.”
This, about the terrible acts the wicked sought to do! All because they were of one language and as one people!
Think about that same principle with the followers of Jesus. If we are all united as a Body, speaking one heavenly language, do you know what will be impossible? NOTHING. When we are unified in mission and in voice, we become an unstoppable force sweeping across the world for the good of the Great One who created us.
In his teachings during his time on earth and since, through the inspired writings of many, Jesus made it known the sheer power of unity among his Body—it is what defines us, empowers us, sets us apart and makes us strong. We are known as his not by what we know, but how we behave in relationship with one another.
Are we putting as much emphasis on the power of unity as God does? Have we highly esteemed the sheer force of being one people, with one heavenly language, working good together for the One who created us?
Do we truly fathom the utter importance of being unified in the holy spirit and having peace?
What is Unity?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines unity as “the quality or state of not being multiple; oneness. A condition of harmony.”
What a definition! Nothing could be more true of what Jesus wants for his Body and what we are to have with one another; one and harmonious, not being multiple. Though our “core beliefs”, “practices”, and understanding of Scripture may be different, we are meant to treat one another with love and respect, and to be one in such a way that people see God and Jesus reflected through us.
This, by the way, is in no way elective. Unity of the spirit is not based on how we feel about our fellow Christians who are different from us; it’s a command from our Lord Jesus about how we conduct ourselves as his representatives and as separate members of his Body. We are to be one and harmonious in a way that moves the Body forward, every part in synchrony, to carry the Gospel to the world.
What Does the Bible Say About Unity?
1 Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
Ephesians 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.
John 17:23 – I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
How Can I Become A Force for Unity?
There are many facets to unity, including unity in doctrine, unity in practice, unity in mind, and more, but the one we are specifically told to keep is the “unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” – which means to acknowledge the same holy spirit in every Christian and use that as a foundation to have peace in the Body of Christ.
Here are three vital ways to become a force for unity!
- Focus on What Unites Us, Not What Divides
Truth is important. But understand that every Christian you meet—even the ones you contend with—all believe they’ve got it figured out. Instead of looking for places where you see differently from your brothers and sisters in Christ, seek the places where you’re of one mind and find ways to spread the Gospel from that position of unity.
- Devote Your Attention to What’s Important
We can certainly spend all our time on this earth debating who among us as Christians has the greater scope of truth, but in the end, will that bring anyone else to Christ? While there’s nothing wrong with a healthy conversation about differing viewpoints, what unifies us as a family is the places where we have respect and love—and those places need to be where we devote the majority of our focus!
- Lead with Love
Remember, Jesus said the world would know we were his disciples not by how much we know, but by how we love one another. Operating from the place of unity in the spirit—recognizing we all serve the same Lord and Master and thus are all infilled with the same gift of holy spirit—allows us to approach one another with love, the greatest unifier and the nature of our Father God.
Is there a place in your life where you’ve chosen division over unity? How can you be a catalyst for unification with others?