MOMENTS WITH THE MINISTER: Unity in the scriptures
The word of the week may just be “unity” within our society, but it is however just a word that has lost most of its meaning over the last four years. We are a divided nation, a divided people, and certainly we do not all agree, nor have one mind when it comes to the direction of our nation. Some were extremely happy this past Wednesday, others are already speaking doomsday prophecies, but no matter how you slice it this “unity” word was thrown around. Some used it sarcastically, believing that an impossibility, others used it hopefully. Some used the word “resisting, and resistance” as a reaction to being told they must unite. In doing so, they reminded the otherside how they resisted over the last four years. But what do the scriptures say about unity? Who can be united? Can lost people who do not claim Jesus Christ as their Lord even speak about unity, or is unity only a possibility among believers? Is unity even a possibility in our culture or have we gone too far? Let us look to the Old and New Testament Scriptures for our answers concerning this word, and see what the Bible has to speak to us today about “unity”.
As we consider Biblical theology, we must first of all say that Christians worship one God. Deuteronomy 6:4 says “Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God is one”. Jesus quotes this verse as well when he told the expert in the law what the greatest commandment was. There is unity with God. Even though He is triune in His nature: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - He is still ONE. It may be hard to understand or grapple with, but each of the members of the Trinity are united as One God. Their purpose, their plan, their passion, their love, their knowledge, and their power is united. They may have different ways they fulfill their united purpose, but they are singular, and One God. In the Old Testament Psalms, David sang, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity”. The minor prophet Malachi testified, “Do we not all have one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?” In books like Judges, Ezra, and Nehemiah the people of Israel united to rebuild the temple and to work with their hands under a joint vision. When we come to the New Testament, the unity that the scriptures most often speak of is the unity that is among brothers and sisters in Christ. In other words, the New Testament calls people to be united in Christ. This is very important because there is no place in the New Testament where Christians are called to be united with lost people who live opposed to Christ. We are called to live at peace with all men, but there are several verses that actually tell us (from the New Testament) that we must be careful to not be united with workers of iniquity or lawlessness. We are to even separate ourselves from brothers and sisters in Christ who live unrepentantly in some form of immorality after they have been confronted by individuals and the church. God often called His people Israel in the Old Testament to be separated from the culture around them in relation to their idolatry and immorality. How do we live in peace with people that view the world, the culture, the church, and Christ differently than we do? Let me first of all say that the practical working out of these answers may at times be hard, but the Christian is always called to love. Even as a Christian separates himself from anti-christian sins, ideologies, philosophies, and practices - he or she must still love the lost. Perhaps we may need to even define for this generation what love is. Love doesn’t always agree, and unity isn’t for everyone under the same flag. Americans will never agree on everything, and as Christians we aren’t called too. We are called to come together under Christ.
We are called to live at peace with all men as much as that is possible where it is up to us. We are called to celebrate our one faith, one church, one hope, one baptism, one God and Father of All, but also realize not everyone who names the name of Christ truly knows Him and is born again. Wisdom tells us unity is impossible if our values and belief systems are so diametrically opposed so that what I think is good, you call evil, and what you think is evil, I call good. How can there be unity when that is the prevailing attitude of the day? There must be a transformation or a “rebirth” in either your heart or mine. So that is why the only unity that counts for anything is in Christ. In Jesus men who opposed each other on the battlefield can find love in their hearts for each other. Why? Because they have been united by a common Savior. They both have had to bow their wills to His. We cannot expect two political parties so different in their own goals for our country to ever unite unless ofcourse they both find one true salvation, one true hope, and one eternal Savior. “Hear, Oh America, the Lord our God, His Son Jesus, and His Holy Spirit is One.” Jesus is where unity begins.
Brian Taylor began his ministry as a young man on the foreign mission field of Togo, West Africa serving with the International Mission Board of the SBC. He spent almost a decade serving as a music and youth minister in the Panhandle of Texas. He loves preaching and pastoring on the southside of Sherman. He has been married to his wife Sarah for 17 years, and they have five children. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.