Unity and Community
IN HIS BOOK The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer describes what he means by this illustration. “So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking 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.”
In other words, the key to our unity in the body of Christ is to keep our eyes on Jesus! By doing so, Jesus defines and establishes our unity.
In “Our Way of Life,” we daily affirm: “I will maintain unity within the body of Christ.” It is a unity already attained for us in Jesus. Paul says in Ephesians 4:4 that “There is one body.” It is already a fact, in Christ we are one.
This unity we have in Christ is vital to our witness in the world. Jesus prays that we would be one “so that the world might believe that [the Father] sent [the Son] (John 17:21). In other words, we make Jesus known to the world by our love for one another.
But we all know how fragile the expression of our unity can be in the body of Christ. Living out our unity in Christ requires humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2). Therefore, we are called “to eagerly maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)
How do we do this?
We do what Tozer suggests. We “tune” our lives to Jesus! What does that mean? It means that we do what Jesus does.
In Matthew 18, Jesus gives us a template for what Kingdom Community looks like. This gives us an idea of how we can maintain unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Consider these five thoughts.
Humility: The disciples ask Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Taking a child, Jesus illustrates that it is one who humbles himself like a child and who receives a child in his name. Maintaining unity requires humility. (Matthew 18:1-6)
Godliness: When it comes to temptation, Jesus calls us to be vigilant against temptation. “If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away!” In other words, be a godly example and don’t cause others to stumble. (Matthew 18:7-9)
Compassion: Have compassion for the one who strays and go after that person. Don’t give up on people. (Matthew 18:10-14)
Confrontation: This may seem like the opposite of maintaining unity, but it is not. If our unity is in Christ, and if a brother or sister is sinning against Christ, it is our responsibility to lovingly call them back to a life of obedience. (Matthew 18:15-20)
Forgiveness: Finally, we should forgive each other. How many times? Jesus said, “seventy times seven.” In other words, we are to forgive every time. Why? Because that is what Jesus did for us. (Matthew 18:21-35)
“I will maintain unity in the body of Christ.”
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