Summary: A sermon on Christian unity based on Psalm 133.
A father had a family of quarreling sons. One day he called his sons before him and, picking out the strongest of them, handed him a stick. “Snap it,” he said. The son did so with a gesture of contempt. The man handed him two sticks. “Snap them,” he said. Again the son did so. The old man handed him ever increasing numbers of sticks. “Snap them,” he said - a bundle of four, five, six. Soon the young man was having to strain to snap the sticks and, finally he had to admit defeat. “Unity is strength,” the old man cautioned his sons. “A house divided cannot stand. Anyone can overthrow you one by one. But stand together, in unity, and your united strength will give your enemies second thoughts.”
Psalm 133 is a psalm about true unity, the unity of the Spirit, a unity that gives strength and on which God pours His blessing.
1. The substance of unity - v. 1
A. The basis of Christian unity - “brothers”
The basis of Christian unity is our common relationship to the heavenly Father. When man sinned against God in the beginning, the first disaster to befall him after being driven from Eden and from
fellowship with God, was that one brother raised his hand against the other. When Cain slew Abel, not only was the first murder committed; but it showed that the brotherhood of man had also been put to death.
Many through-out history have tried to resurrect the notion of the brotherhood of man. But the brotherhood of man cannot come through the organizations of men. People can join lodges and clubs, they can found organizations and promote ecumenical movements; but that will never produce true brotherhood among men.
There can be no universal brotherhood of man apart from a universal fatherhood of God; and the Bible makes it clear that God is not the father of all. He is the creator of all, but he is the father only of those who are born again, born from above, born of the Spirit of God.
The world is looking for a practical demonstration of brotherhood; and the only place where they will ever be able to see true brotherhood in action is among those who know God as their father, those who are brothers and sisters in Christ. That is why David speaks of . . .
B. The blessing of Christian unity - “good and pleasant”
1) It is good and pleasant as far as the church is concerned.
Unity is always good in the work and influence of the church. United, we can accomplish much for the kingdom of God. Divided, we can bring much joy to the kingdom of Satan.
It would be good at this point to say that David must not be misunderstood to be speaking of uniformity here. There is a difference between unity and uniformity. Dwelling together in unity does not mean that we are rubber-stamped into a similar form. The church is not to be involved in cookie cutter Christianity. Christian unity is not brought about by mechanical restrictions and regulations. Christian unity is a heart union of believers ready to work together for the purpose of glorifying God and furthering the work of his kingdom.
In a musical production, there are a variety of singers and players. Yet, in spite of a great diversity of instruments and voices, they can play together in harmony. How? As they each look to and obey the direction of the conductor. Even so, David speaks of a unity of diverse people, based upon their common relationship to God and their willingness to look to Him and obey Him.
2) It is good and pleasant as far as the world is concerned.
A church hopelessly divided fins it extremely difficult to reconcile a torn and broken world to God. On the other hand, unity among God’s children is always attractive, for such brotherly love cannot be found in the world. No wonder David declares Christian unity to be “good and pleasant.”
3) It is good and pleasant as far as the Lord is concerned.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." - John 13:34-35 (NIV)
When it was born in Jerusalem, the church was a Fellowship. When it went to Greece, it became a Philosophy. When it went to Rome, it became an Institution. When it went to Europe, it became a Culture. When it went to America it became an Enterprise. How the Church needs to return to being a Fellowship!
2. Two symbols of unity - vs. 2-3
A. An illustration from the sacred realm - v. 2