So unity is something that cannot be achieved without God's help, but it cannot be achieved without our effort also. Without unity, the early Christian church could not have been established, and God's vast earthly agenda could and cannot be accomplished.
As each individual's faith in and obedience to God fluctuates, so does the overall spiritual performance of a body of believers. Peter and Paul taught and warned against this many, many times. Though sometimes it may be difficult, we must strive for tolerance in doctrinal and personality clashes that do not actually cause dissension. Paul wrote an entire chapter in Romans defining those doctrinal points that should not affect the harmony of love in the congregation and what doctrine must be corrected before it becomes detrimental to the health of the church. We must recognize that every single one of us has our very own relationship with Christ, and He reveals His Word to each of us in His own time and way. If we are shown to be the one to teach or correct a brother, then we must do it with love.
Again, nothing we do by our own volition amounts to anything. Any true act of love can only be accomplished through Christ. But unity is a fragile thing, and the tongue can tear down in minutes what took years to build up. I have personally seen a church split down the middle in warfare over one spoken sentence. James wrote passionately about this, "The tongue, being such a little member, can boast of great things...It is a fire, a world of wickedness ignited by Hell itself that can contaminate and deprave the whole body...the tongue can be tamed by no man... out of the same mouth comes blessings and curses... whenever there is jealousy and contention, there will also be confusion, rebellion and all sorts of evil...But the wisdom from above is pure, peace-loving and courteous. It is willing to yield to reason. It is unwavering and consistent." Again I ask, can we achieve this on our own? Absolutely not! In complete surrender, we must fall on our knees and ask God to refine us by teaching us His ways and personality.
There are those in some congregations that fancy themselves to be especially spiritual people. They can be found at any level in the church, and can even be active in religious ministry. They speak or secretly think of their office and gifts as being more valuable than others. But by this deception, they render their service and faith ineffective and can slowly and sometimes almost imperceptibly bring disorder to an otherwise obedient church. This is why it is imperative that a church has a full hierarchy of leaders in place. But the sad truth is, a surprising number of congregations have one or no elders. There are pastors and reverends that prefer it that way so they can have more control over their flock. But true unity can only come from servitude and surrender to the fellow brethren, no matter what their status is in the church, and not just to God. The Lord forbid that any should believe their work for God is more important than others.
The primary focus of John's epistles is love for our fellow Christians and how it directly relates to our salvation. In I John 3:14, we read, "We know we have passed on from death into life by witnessing our love for each other." This is a statement of hope for all Christians to love one another as God loves us. This is certainly a tall order. John is not asking us to simply have a human, natural love that a non-believer can also have. He is specifically speaking of a love for others borne out of a spiritual connection that brands us as unique children of God, in unity with His purpose. This love cannot be expressed by one who does not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. One's Spirit must witness to the other's Spirit in order for there to be unity. "When we love God and obey His commandments, we cannot help but love His children." Furthermore, we are to consider other's needs more important than our own. This is what Jesus did.
Until next month, God bless!