Unity


NOTE: This is not a photo of the taxi driver I mentioned below. Image credit

In a recent talk with a taxi driver, he boasted to me about the “unity” that his religious group displays every election here in the Philippines. I told him that it is not really unity but actually uniformity. Unity is not necessarily uniformity. There can be unity in diversity and diversity in unity. 
Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. (Romans 12:4-5, NLT) [1]
The church as a body is united but not uniform. As one body, we are composed of “many parts” with different “special function[s]”. To insist on being uniform is to insist that the body should be composed of one part only or that all parts must have the same function.

Image credit

First, though unity is good, let me make it clear that disunity is not always bad. The apostle Paul told the divided Corinthian church, “there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” (1 Corinthians 11:19). There are times such situation would reveal who the true believers are and would weed out the nonbelievers. Second, we are to work at keeping ourselves united, not achieving it. We believers are already united. “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” (Ephesians 4:3, NLT) Note the phrase “in Spirit.” This brings me to the third point. Unity is spiritual, not merely organizational. We need not belong to a single organization. Though we may belong to different Christian churches or denominations, we have a common life in the Spirit. 

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When we put our faith in Jesus, we are baptized in the Spirit at the same time (not to be confused with baptism in water). For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13. Emphasis added.) The purpose of this spiritual baptism is to join us “into one body.” That means every believer in the past (since Acts 2, to be precise), the present, and the future (until the second coming of the Lord), is part of the Body of Christ, that is, the Church. Contrary to what Pentecostal and Charismatic groups teach, the baptism in the Spirit is simultaneous with salvation and not a subsequent experience. It happens at the very moment of salvation, not after it.

“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.” (John 17:20-21) Image credit

The night before He was betrayed and arrested, the Lord prayed not only for His twelve disciples but also for us. “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.” (John 17:20-21) It is the Lord’s desire that we—His Church—would remain united. Our testimony to the world is at stake. Thus we are to be “alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.” (Ephesians 4:3, The Message) 

We are already united. Let us keep ourselves united.

Significant Step

Reflect on 1 Corinthians 1:10. “I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” (NLT) The Message version goes like this: “You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.” In view of that verse, how can we cultivate our unity in the Spirit as a church?

NOTE: This is Day Three of the devotional guide (Volume 1, Issue 5) of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship, for the message last Sunday, March 29, on Know How Much You Are Worth Part 3” (“Significance” series, a verse-by-verse study of the book of Ephesians).

[1] All Bible verses are from the English Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.


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