Most people attending your local church would tell you that one of the goals of the church is to attain unity; however, is this something we actually practice? My church is no different from yours in the sense that often there is disunity due to some offense or a grudge held without forgiveness. All of these things contribute to a lack of oneness in a church body, oneness that is ultimately Jesus’ greatest desire for His church.
Much prayer is needed for the family unit.
I’m sure most of you have watched The Jungle Book. When “The Law for the Wolves” is read, one line really speaks of unity: “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” This quote really speaks to the fact that we are much better together—even though our nature tends to strive for independence.
One of the verses that really captures Jesus’ desire for His people is John 17:21, “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in You” (NIV). When we study the life of Jesus, we find that the strength He found to live out His purpose on a daily basis came through His unity with the Father through prayer and connection to Him. Jesus desired us to experience this very same unity, but often our selfishness and pride get in the way of this oneness with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will explore some passages and see what the Bible has to say about unity in the book of Ephesians.
Blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:3–14)
We have been given many blessings, and one of those is the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13), who can bring unity to the body of Christ. God has chosen us to be a part of history and to be partners with Him in uniting people to Christ. This is a huge privilege! One of the benefits of having the Holy Spirit is that we can ask for His help in uniting us with those in our church so that, together, we can be a powerful force in reaching the community. The Holy Spirit is working on our hearts to break down walls of unforgiveness and chains of brokenness, but how often do we choose to ignore that still, small voice and to hold on to our pride? This is exactly what our enemy wants and is working so hard to get us to do. For those who choose to experience that unity and oneness with Christ and with other believers who are working to complete our commission, huge blessings and strength will be poured out.
When I read in Ephesians 1:5–7 that God has adopted us because of what Christ has done, my heart longs to thank Him by doing what He asks of me. It is my hope that we will listen to that voice and experience the blessings of being a united family under Christ.
Breaking Down the Wall (Eph. 2:11–22)
Jesus’ gift on the cross broke down barriers that were common in that day between Jews and Gentiles. Because of what He did, we “are no longer outsiders and strangers. You are citizens together with God’s people. You are members of God’s family” (Eph. 2:19, NIrV). Even though we no longer have barriers of Jews and Gentiles or the circumcised and uncircumcised, as a church, we still have a lot of walls built up against certain groups or kinds of people. When we show favoritism to or judgment of others, we are not practicing love to members of God’s family—we are all a part of the same family. And just as we often have dysfunction in our own earthly family, there is dysfunction within our church family, and it will take intentional effort on our part to show love and to break down these walls.
Unity in One Body (Eph. 4:1–6)
One—it is the smallest number, but when it comes to unity, it is the biggest number we have. “The Holy Spirit makes you one in every way. So try your best to remain as one. Let peace keep you together” (Eph. 4:3, NIrV). I believe this is why, in the Beatitudes, Jesus blessed the peacemakers—every family needs at least one of those. This passage connects a lot of points in the Bible—we need the fruit of the Spirit to have unity. God has designed unity in all of creation, and yet in the one place where He allows free will, we are given the task of creating unity, along with the Holy Spirit’s help. When we have unity, Christ is working more fully within us because “He is in everything” (verse 6, NIrV).
Church Leaders and Unity (Eph. 4:11, 12)
Even though church leaders have many different roles, the main goal is to be unified and to unify the people of God’s church toward one mission. When we experience disunity on a foundational level of leadership, it is very difficult for the church to maintain unity—we, as leaders, are the example through our actions, not through our words and carefully thought-out sermons.
Human Relationships in Christ (Eph. 5:15–6:9)
According to Ephesians 5:15–6:9, to maintain unity in our relationships, we must encourage others and maintain hearts of gratitude. The Bible mentions gratitude a lot because when we practice it, it is much harder to focus on the negative sides of people, situations, or circumstances. This passage also speaks to different relationship dynamics, and one I want to focus on is the foundational family unit. When we experience unity within our very own households, we are able to take this into our church. Because this unit is so foundational, the enemy is making many attacks on our families. Much prayer is needed for the family unit.
1. Examine the family units in your church and how they correlate to the overall unity in the church body.
2. Do you feel you are an example of unity in your relationships with your family and the church? Pray about it.