What is unity and where does it come from?
A definition is: something joined as a whole. We all crave more unity. We would like to see our nations, our local communities and particularly our churches and families more united. Unfortunately, we live in an environment where some very important factors are not “joined as a whole.”
Having been drawn out of the world, our position in regard to unity is decidedly different than the common ideas about unity which surround us. There are two important aspects of unity of which we need to be mindful. They are our calling and our baptism. These factors were emphasized by the Apostle Paul when he wrote a letter to the Church in Ephesus. Paul’s message conveys, among other important teachings, the fact that God provides both unity and the means by which it can be maintained.
Paul is at pains to have the Church understand the spiritual composition of the body that comprises the Church. Paul refers to a mystery which was revealed to him. The mystery was that gentiles could be, “fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). Paul declared that the whole family on earth is named after the one single entity – the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. All nationalities and races that are included in the body, are “to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:14-16). So, God’s Spirit is a common denominator for those called and made members of the body of Christ.
With this base of understanding, Paul then emphasizes the importance of our calling. We are “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Ephesians 4:1). Members are to live in a manner which corresponds to their calling. The calling is from the Father and is a high calling (Philippians 3:14), a holy calling (2 Timothy 1:9) and a heavenly calling (Hebrews 3:1). Our calling is a very special separation from a world of disunity and a connection to the oneness of God. The inner man becomes powered by the Holy Spirit and that one Spirit gives us one hope of our calling. No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities and differences, but the same Spirit and the same Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3,4). Our calling is to unity with the Father and Jesus Christ.
Paul says there is one baptism. Calling and baptism are inseparable. To the Church in Galatia Paul wrote, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28). Baptism aligns the human mind with the mind of Christ, who Himself is totally aligned with the Father. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling” (Ephesians 4:4).
Unity in God’s Church is provided by the working of God’s Spirit within the hearts and minds of members who have submitted to God’s calling and are empowered by the one Spirit through baptism. Organizations and human leaders may provide some orderly function for a group of people, but they are not the origin of godly unity. The source of unity is not in being a member of an organization. The source of unity is being an active member of the body of Christ “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:6).
by Brian Orchard