As we have been preparing for the upcoming National Day of Prayer ignites Fire on the Altar with it’s theme of praying for “UNITY,” I have been pondering the meaning of “unity” and what God means when he talks about followers of Jesus being “unified.” Dictionary.com defines “Unity” as the state of being one; oneness; a whole or totality as combining all its parts into one; the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification; absence of diversity; unvaried or uniform character; oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement.
What does it mean and look like to be “united” in the Body of Christ* when we have so many expressions, do we subscribe to one denominations persuasions*? If the answer is yes, then who has all the right answers? Whose worship is correct? Is it the Baptists? The Methodist? The Pentecostals? The Lutherans? The Catholics? What does it mean to have “the state or fact of being united or combined into one as of the parts of a whole?
Jesus prayed for unity among His followers in John 17, one of His last recorded prayers before His death on the Cross; the Psalmist sings of the blessing that is commanded when brothers dwell together in unity (Psalm 133). So how do we become unified and what does it look like?
I don’t have answers to all my questions and I am not going to pretend to have it all figured out, but I think unity begins with humility and love.
“…make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:2-4
We are united when we are humble and prefer one another. We are of one mind when we lay down our rights for the rights of another. I approach you in humility and give preference to you and you approach me in humility and give preference to me and we are united in one mind and one heart to serve one another.
“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. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:1-6
Each of us are a part, one part of the Body of Christ. We are one piece of the puzzle, and we see and know only part. But when my part and your part and their part comes together we become a part of the whole, unified. But there is still struggle with the sin of pride and in order for us to come together and BE a Body we must be humble. We must understand and recognize that we need one another. We only understand and see in part; no part of the Body is better than any other part, and we need each part (1 Corinthians 12).
In Jesus’ prayer, recorded in John 17, he concludes that unity in the Body of Christ is a testimony, to the World, of who He is. John reiterates this truth in 1 John that our love for one another testifies of Christ.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 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.” – John 17:20-23
What could happen in our cities, in our nation, if the different parts of the Body humbled ourselves and set out to love one another, to serve one another? I know in this day and age with all the controversies happening in the church, unity doesn’t seem easy to attain; nor does the way we get there seem to be so cut-and –dry. But what if it is easier than we think? What if we are making it more complicated than it has to be? What if our pride is getting the way more than we realize?
Just something to think about and seek God about.