A series on the standard of Unity that Christ has placed on His church, and our imperative as His disciples to lovingly uphold it.
Love, The Glue of Unity
As we Forgive those who Trespass Against Us
United By Faith
Family is… key. It’s what we all are born into. In truth, it’s what we all want to belong to. A number of people are born into damaged homes, or none at all. Over time we come to witness the gaping hole that experience can create in them – an undying need to belong. Everybody wants a place to live and love others. A place to call home is made so by the family that makes it.
“Family isn’t the most important thing – it’s everything.”
– Michael J. Fox
Having a good, loving family is a high blessing – one we should always thank God for. For those who haven’t experienced family by birth, we have the chance of embracing others as ‘family’ – their friends, the people they marry, the children they bring into the world and those they bring into their homes. Therefore, we find that all of ‘family’ comes in three ways: birth, marriage and adoption.
We find in scripture, that God upholds (and institutes) all three of these. And while all this sounds very nice, you might sitting there behind your bright-lit screen sipping tea and wondering: so what does this have to do with this “Christians, unite!” title?
Hey, there’s no suspense here! I’mma let you in on it real quick. The basis of all unity is oneness: being of one blood or covenant, nature or spirit. These are not just features of togetherness, they are also features of families. What we are looking at, is the order of creation – and all living things. In this instance, the creation mirrors its creator. Therein we find a clue about God’s nature and also His intentions.
Unity is an essential mark of every relationship, and every family. Oneness is a mark of loving homes, and even societies. Now, watch this: Christians need to unite because God wants us to be united. Because we are (gasp) a family. More than that: we are his eternal family.
The Family of God
Creation gives us a picture of God’s nature (Psalm 19:1-3), but His word gives us a proper revelation of who He is: our creator and sustainer, father and friend. These last two things reveal to us a God who graciously wants to relate with us: He wants to be known unto us. When He made us, God wanted to establish a relationship by making people who had His own very nature: those who would be like Him. When He redeemed us from the death of sin, He went a level higher: He made us His own children (John 1:12). This is God’s most powerful act of grace to us created beings.
Unity in the Godhead
In this way, God created our eternal family out of adoption (Eph 1:5). This was always His plan for us. In a sense though, God was always a ‘family’: a Father, Son and Spirit, three distinct persons. And yet, what is the defining quality of this ‘family’? Oneness. Perfect, unblemished, inseparable oneness. This is why the word repeats again and again: There is one God (Deut 6:4, Mark 12:29, John 17:3). And how could three distinct persons become one? Well that’s the kind of mystery I think we won’t soon figure out, but I would guess: perfect unity.
Just as Jesus declared that the Lord God is one, He also said “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and are in complete unity: unity of substance, nature, spirit and purpose. They are the same (John 1:1-3, 14), act the same way and want the same things, all the time (Gen 1:26; John 5:19-20).
But just think about it: they also work together in all things. Jesus was anointed by His Father and came in the power of the Spirit to us when He was conceived. He was the word that was with God in the beginning, and all things were made by Him and through Him – yet in the beginning it was God’s Spirit that hovered over the deep, before God, and His word was Christ. And now, all three are present in our lives as Christians – our Father, His Son our Lord, and His Spirit in us as the seal of eternal salvation. The three are at work in the lives of all believers to make them perfect in the day of glory. They are working together right now to complete a new, perfect creation: that when it is complete, once again they will say “It is very good.”
Unity in the Church
Now, there are no marks for putting two and two together… we are the people God is making into a perfect creation! In fact, we are being made into the image of Christ by His Spirit who is in us (2 Cor 3:18). It should be no surprise that the picture of family underlies our rules of living in Christ. We are God’s children, and children must be like their father. Jesus is exactly like His Father, and we must be like Jesus, so as to be like Our Father. For this reason God said “Be holy, for I am Holy.” (1 Pet 1:15-16)
What has turned out in to be quite a trip in deduction and association over the past 900 words of this post finally then leads us to a simple conclusion: Christians must be one, just as the Lord is one. The Sons and daughters of God must resemble Him – therefore unity and oneness must be seen among them.
Christians must be one, just as the Lord is one
This is not a small thing: in a seven-part series we will learn from the word both the command and power of unity among the believers of Christ in the world. We will see that the bible wants God’s entire family of children to love because He loves; to forgive because He does; to uphold truth because He is truth; to remain in one spirit because He is of one Spirit; that they may live just as He lives – fully.
Believers must know that we are commanded to be of one spirit, mind, love and purpose, just as we have one God and one Savior. Out of these things comes the very power of God displayed to the world through His united church. Over the next few weeks we will draw from the portions of scripture whose teachings show that this phrase is not a suggestion; it is a God-given imperative.