“Unity” is a buzzword in our conversations – in media and culture at large – yet I wonder if we fully grasp the whole idea of living a life of unity. Western culture speaks of unity using the word “inclusivity,” which means including a diversity of expression both in thought and identity. That will lead to peace and harmony. At the same time, culture glorifies individualism. It’s about my right to consume what I want, be who I want and live how I want, and that takes precedence over any other person. John Lennon’s song “Imagine” is a utopian pipe dream which is flawed by a wicked and depraved generation who seek after their own kingdoms. Christianity speaks of unity in ways that sound similar yet couldn’t be more different.
As believers we are called “the body of Christ,” who himself calls out the various parts of the body, to work as one united in the purpose of his Kingdom. For example, apostles, teachers, evangelists, pastors and intercessors are all different in their gifting and how they express themselves and yet they are held together by Jesus, and the fullness of who he is. Every part of this unity is about working together for one common goal and purpose – to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. The body cannot function to the best of its ability unless every part is doing what it’s called to do. Even though my eye is very different than my ear, my body needs both parts to function well. It can adapt when a part is missing, but that is not the best scenario. When I think about this aspect of unity, I’m in awe of how our diverse giftings are called to work together for the good of the Kingdom of God.
The word of God is clear that we are called to hold love to the highest standard of our character and be united with Christ. Here our individualism, ideas and everything about us come under the leadership of Jesus, who is the head of a united body. He commands us to die to our own way of doing things and become united together in him. He calls us into a place of maturation, “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13b). Unity in love is where we find our life. We recognize that if we are held together by Jesus, who in great love became the atonement for our sins, his thoughts now become our thoughts and his ways of doing things become our ways.
United in love
I’ve been meditating on the fact that what I do and what I believe actually matter in this place of unity. Too quickly I forget that every action I do affects somebody in a positive or negative way, which speaks to my flawed human love. I can say I love, yet how does the character of that love show to those around me? Does it bring unity? Does it bring about an outcome that furthers the strength of the Kingdom of God here on earth, or do I need to do things differently so that my character better reflects Jesus’?
Jesus abided in his father’s love, showing us the first place we are called to go when we feel critical, envious or in conflict of any kind. He had such sweet unity on earth; it was the foundation of his entire ministry. He even prayed that we would be one just as he and his father were one and that we would be one with them, so the world would believe the Father had sent Jesus (John 17). May the Lord unite us in his love, bringing us into the full maturity of Christ’s character so the world sees him and not us.
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