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by Euell White
10/17/2013 / Church Life
The Psalmist wrote: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1). When we study the Bible we can have no doubt that it is God's will for His Body to work together in unity and not in competition. Paul addressed this in his letter to the church at Ephesus endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father "of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:3-6).
The early church was in unity: Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:44-47). The key words in these verses are together and in one accord. This is where their strength came from.
The writer of Ecclesiastes said: Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4).
In the context of urging the church at Ephesus to "walk worthy " of their "calling," Paul addressed the issue of "unity of the spirit." In His prayer for His disciples, Jesus prayed for unity (John 17: 20-21).
The word "unity" is much used and misused. There is a pseudo-Christian Hindu cult that identifies itself by the word "Unity," but they know nothing about the keeping of the unity of the spirit that Paul wrote about.
Disunity in the body of Christ seriously limits and hinders the work of the church. Unity is the primary necessity for wholeness and health in the human body. Unity in the human body can be defined as " the harmonious function of all its organs." This is equally true of the spiritual body. Each member has a place and a function in the Body and if we don't realize it the overall health of the body is affected and its function hindered.
Unity is not uniformity, or sameness, and diversity is not a threat to unity. The soldier of two opposing armies could be dressed in the same uniforms but there would be no unity because they don't share the same loyalties and values. As Christians, we can be in unity with other Christians, although there are cultural and theological doctrinal differences, so long as we have in common loyalty to Our Lord Jesus Christ and the values that He teaches us.
We can have different traditions such as how we take communion so long as we agree that Jesus is the one whose body and blood are symbolized by the elements of communion. God has not told us to establish unity in his body. He did that Himself. Our task is to keep it--to walk in it or walk it out. Unity is a key indicator of the spiritual growth and maturity of the church.
We cannot rely on the numbers that attend the assemblies as indicators of maturity. A crowd can be assembled for fleshly entertainment that has nothing to do with spiritual growth. In His letter to the Romans, Paul wrote: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: If prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:5-8)
To the Colossians, Paul expressed his desire that the hearts of the saints might be encouraged, , being knit together in love. This is the condition that exists when there is unity in the church--hearts are "knit together in love." .
Soon after retiring from the army, Euell answered the call to Christian ministry. He served as Director of Counseling and Missions of an interdenominational church for 17 years. Now retired from the church staff, he devotes most of his time to writing. Euell has published several
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