Summary: Unity among His followers was so important to Jesus that He prayed that you and I would be one. When the church is united, the world will stand up and take notice.
Be United with One Another
One Sunday a minister was giving a children’s sermon to all the kids in church. A bright-eyed three-year-old girl was listening intently as he explained that God wanted them all to get along and to love one another. She was tracking with her pastor until he said, “God wants us all to be one.” To which the little girl replied, “But I don’t want to be one. I want to be four.”
This girl was on to something. Many of us don’t want to be one either. It’s much easier for us to splinter into four groups, or forty groups, or even four hundred different groups. While it’s difficult to get an exact count because the number keeps going up, there are thousands of denominations and religious groups in the United States alone. As we continue in our “Body Building” series by looking at several of the “one another” statements from the New Testament, this morning we’re focusing on how we can be united with one another.
In his book called, “Gentle Thunder,” Max Lucado, tells the following story with wit and style, as only he can (pages 139-140): Some time ago I came upon a fellow on a trip who was carrying a Bible. “Are you a believer?” I asked him. “Yes,” he said excitedly. I’ve learned you can’t be too careful. “Virgin birth?” I asked. “I accept it,” he replied.
“Deity of Jesus?” “No doubt.”
“Death of Christ on the cross?” “He died for all people.”
Could it be that I was face to face with a Christian? Perhaps. Nonetheless, I continued my checklist. “Status of man?” “Sinner in need of grace.”
“Definition of grace?” “God doing for man what man can’t do.”
“Return of Christ?” “Imminent.”
“The Church?” “The Body of Christ.”
I started getting excited. “Conservative or liberal?” He was getting interested too. “Conservative.” My heart began to beat faster. “Heritage?” “Southern Congregationalist Holy Son of God Dispensationalist Triune Convention.” That was mine! “Branch?” “Pre-millennial, post-trib, noncharismatic, King James, one-cup communion.”
My eyes misted. I had only one other question. “Is your pulpit wooden or fiberglass?” “Fiberglass,” he responded. I withdrew my hand and stiffened my neck. “Heretic!” I said, and walked away.
Though humorous and extreme, Lucado identifies a common problem. Many of us are quick to divide over just about anything. As someone has said, “to live above with those we love, oh, how that will be glory. To live below with those we know, now that’s another story.” The Bible is filled with a focus on family togetherness. God’s people are designed to fit as pieces of a puzzle in order to form a united picture of divine love. When we are unified, we display the personality, purposes, and power of God.
Here’s a brief survey of some Scripture passages that lift up the spiritual standard of a cohesive community of faith.
Judges 20:11: “So all the men of Israel got together and united as one man against the city.”
2 Chronicles 30:12: “…The hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the LORD.”
Psalm 133:1: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”
· Jeremiah 32:38-39: “They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.”
John 10:16: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
Acts 4:32: “All the believers were one in heart and mind…”
Romans 15:5-6: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 1:10-11: “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
How are we doing in our quest for unity within the community of faith? Are we united as one person? Are we living together with singleness of heart this morning? Are we one in mind so that we’re in agreement with fellow Christ followers? These are tough questions to answer, aren’t they? Left to ourselves, we don’t automatically drift toward unity. In fact, our default setting is disunity. History is littered with a lack of harmony among humans.