The world is known for divisions: culture, education, socio-economic status, race, language, gender.
The early Church was marked by love—and oneness:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:44-47 NIV
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
In the first century, Christianity revolutionized the world through its unity. Slave and master worshipped side by side. Jew and Gentile discussed Paul’s latest letter over a ham sandwich. Women sat at the feet of the apostles, learned, and led. It blew the minds of people in that time—and the Kingdom exploded as many embraced the gospel.
Not that unity didn’t come with its challenges. Paul continually called early Christians to unity:
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. ” 1 Corinthians 1:10
“I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:2).”
How do we achieve unity today? Let’s look at Paul’s words:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4
Note: Paul listed the many items they had in common first. Then, Paul emphasized these objectives:
Being like-minded: The two greatest commandments haven’t changed. Love God. Love others. Even in conflict, we have more in common than we think. Let’s not lose sight of the positives as we work through our differences.
Having the same love: Remember the Source. We can’t love others effectively if we don’t draw from Him. My tank empties quickly.
Being one in spirit: The Holy Spirit marks every believer. As we bring our spirit in line with His Spirit, we will operate in unity. If we balk, it’s usually here. Yet, God in His grace gently brings us along. Keep your heart soft toward God, and He will soften it towards others.
Do nothing out of selfishness: Ouch! Talk about retraining! In our me-first culture, we have lots of opportunity to die to self. Embrace it. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.
Value others above yourself: Don’t you love people who do this? I had a good friend who always made me feel like I was the most important person in the room. She inspired me to love well like no other person has.
Note: Division reeks of spiritual warfare, so expect the enemy to show up in force whenever you get serious about unity. Potential areas of attack? Your marriage. Your family. Your church family. Everything from family devotionals to date night to holidays to Bible study groups will come under attack, so be ready.
The enemy fears our unity because it brings life change, so persevere.
Workout of the Week: Unity
Memory Verse: I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. ” 1 Corinthians 1:10
Meditation Passage: Philippians 2
Do It: The church is marked by unity and love. Add your mark this week.