Summary: The power of a community of believers is seen in its unity. That unity is evidence of God's power and purpose in Jesus.
1. Religious Disunity
Hartford Institute for Religious Research says that there were 217 denominations listed in the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. But there may well be other groups that function as a denomination but do not regard themselves as such. These denominational groups claim to best represent what God wants for His people. Christianity Today reported on a study of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, there are approximately 41,000 Christian denominations and organizations in the world.
2. Religious Division is not new 1 Corinthians 1.10-13
10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
3. One of the reasons for fighting and feuding in our churches is that certain people think they are always right about everything and they become very legalistic about it. “It’s my way or the highway!” They focus on themselves and their point of view, not in introducing people to God. We must work at building up one another, not tearing one another down.
4. This is the kind of world to which the Restoration Movement reacted in the late 18th and 19th centuries. They saw the reality of a divided Christian Church and worked to unite it. T. Campbell was expelled from the Old Light Seceder Anti-Burgher branch of the Presbyterian Church;
5. Unity is an important issue in the large and small scales – John 17.11a; 20-23
11. . . Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
I. Our Unity is Based on Imitating Our Master –
A. He was United with the Father (John 17.11b, 21a, 22b, 23a)
B. He Was (is) United with His Disciples as seen through Philippians 2.1-11
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God said, “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”
II. Our Unity is Based on the Proper Motives