God desires for His people, the church, to be unified. Now, it’s really hard for people to have unity because we have so many different beliefs, opinions, and preferences. It’s challenging for a family living under the same roof to be unified. It’s really difficult for a church family, a local body of believers, to be unified. And it’s extremely challenging for all the churches around our community, country, and the world to be unified.
But Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, wants His people to live in unity.
On the last week of Jesus’ life, he prays not only for his current disciples, but he prays for his future disciples, those of us who are followers of Jesus. In John 17:20-23, Jesus prays that His followers, the church, would be one. He prays that we would be brought to complete unity. And the result of the church being unified is that the world would know that Jesus was sent by God.
In fact, one of the best ways that Christians can witness to the lost world is through our love for each other. Je-sus said in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” Jesus’ command is for fellow Christians to love one another. Love and unity among believers are crucial to Jesus’ message and mission.
When Christians and churches are fighting, arguing and talking bad about one another, it damages the cause of Christ. When we are divisive toward one another, it turns people away from Jesus Christ. God wants all of His children to be unified and work together to build His church and kingdom. The Apostle Paul explains this further in his letter to the church in Ephesus. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3).”
The Apostle Paul urges the church to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” We are to work really hard to be unified as the church, God’s people. It is not easy for the church to live in harmony and unity. This is one of the reasons there are so many different denominations. Over the centuries, Christians have had a hard time working together and staying unified.
In this passage in the book of Ephesians, Paul gives some instructions for how we can stay unified. First, be completely humble. Don’t think too highly of yourself and don’t let pride hinder your relationships. Secondly, be gentle. Do not be hard or abrasive toward one another. In other words, be gentlemen or gentlewomen. Thirdly, be patient. It’s easy to lose patience with people who do not believe or think the way we do. Getting impatient with imperfect people is easy. Well, I have news for you. The church is full of imperfect people. I am one of them. Lastly, the Apostle Paul says to bear with one another in love. We are to bear with one another. We are to put up with one another. We are to forgive whatever grievances we have toward one another. In fact, we are to forgive as the Lord forgave us (Colossians 3:13).
And the only way we can put any of this into practice is through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us and through us. It is through God’s love in us that we can truly love and forgive others. If Christians from all churches were truly unified and worked together for the cause of Jesus Christ, imagine the incredible impact we could have on our community, country, and the world. Fellow followers of Jesus, let’s be the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17. Let’s be one in Christ and work together in complete unity. And when we do, God will be glorified, and many people will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Jonathan Howes has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from Jacksonville State University and a Master in Divinity Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the lead pastor for Graystone Church. Locations include the Ozora Campus: 1551 Ozora Road Loganville, GA 30052, the Walton Campus: 723 N Broad St Monroe, GA 30655 and the Oconee Campus: 1275 Lenru Road Bogart, GA 30622.
Phone: (770) 466-3159