What Is Unity?
This morning’s devotional is adapted from Ray Stedman’s “A Cry For Unity” that was written many years ago. It is based on the following scripture:
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
These verses define the nature of Christian Unity. It is not a union to be produced, but a unity that already exists. Unity is not based on theological agreement, it is the experience we share as we embrace the Gospel of our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ. These are things that define us, not we who define them. Unity is immediately experienced by all who are in Christ. Therefore, the way to create unity is simply to bring people to Christ, and the unity of the Spirit will be produced in them by the Spirit.
As we apply this great truth there are two significant things that are evident:
- We must not classify Christians by organization. We must not say that all those who belong to one human created organization are Christian, but all those who do not belong are not. God’s Spirit surpasses all human boundaries. The unity of the Spirit will be found in people in many different groups. We will find Christians everywhere, and it becomes our responsibility to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace with Christians, regardless of organizational affiliation, wherever we find them.
- The efforts of Christians are not to be directed toward creating unity but toward maintaining peace in the body. That is how Paul puts it in verse 3, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” It is important that Christians not be quarreling, bickering, and struggling against one another. A church that behaves like that is a totally ineffective body in its community. It is important that when Christians meet together they recognize that they are called to understand one another, to demonstrate patience with one another, to pray for one another, to forgive one another, to be kind, tenderhearted. There is no place in the body for holding grudges, un-forgiveness, bitterness, resentment, or being hateful toward each other.
Unity of the Spirit is manifested in the body as we allow the fragrance of Jesus to emanate from us. Paul tells us what this looks like in Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control… .” Yes, the fruit of the Spirit is how unity is demonstrated. We cannot create it, force it, or fake it. It is a gracious and divine gift that allows us to heal long-standing grudges, deep-seated resentments, and bitter hostilities that are harbored against one another. We must fulfill what the apostle tells us to do, to maintain the unity of the Spirit.
Meditate on this prayer:
Father, may Your Spirit search my heart about my attitude and behavior toward others. Thank You for the revelation that it is not my calling to produce a union of Christians but rather to discover that unity that can only be produced by your Holy Spirit.
Have you realized that it is not your job to produce unity, but to discover the unity produced by the Holy Spirit? Have others noticed the peace, love, and life of Christ in you?
You are loved!