My dad is a retired pastor (contradicted by the steady number of Sundays he continues to preach at various churches around the area!), so I have seen more than most of what goes on behind the scenes in churches. The backbiting and sniping, the conniving and planning, and the outright wickedness and lies; I’ve seen it all. Don’t misunderstand me; those engaging in these activities are always a small minority of the people attending church. This group does, however, point out how easy it seems to be for Christians to be anything but unified. There is as much discord in your typical church as there is within your typical political party. This isn’t how it is supposed to be. We are instructed to diligently seek unity. Diligence is defined as “constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken”. This is not a word that means to nonchalantly give lip service to our efforts. We must be constantly seeking unity. Unity is difficult to achieve, division is easy. It’s far less work to complain about someone else than to work towards a solution. It’s far easier to criticize the ideas of others than to present one of your own. It seems like most of our efforts result in tearing apart rather than building up. As long as we are pulling in disparate directions, our effectiveness will be significantly hindered. Cooperation yields incredible power by sheer quantity of scale. As the saying goes, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” In the same way, none of us is as strong as all of us. As Jesus Himself said, wherever two or three are gathered together in His name, He will be there with them (Matthew 18:20). There is great power in unity.
In Ephesians 4:3, we find the key to unity: peace. If we live in peace with one another, unity will come easily. The problem is we live in anything but peace. We are far more interested in establishing our own superiority. We want to be the one everyone else looks up to or seeks out in times of trouble. We want to be seen as the wisest and most spiritual person in our group. Whenever anyone else appears to be taking on that role, we are quick to attack them. Suddenly we see it as our duty to expose their every fault. As a result, we give them no peace, nor do we have any of our own. If we would follow Jesus then we must follow His pattern of peace. He did not react violently when violence was being inflicted upon Him; He did not reject others though they rejected Him. Instead, He chose to respond in peace and with tender love to all. He was a man of peace, consumed with a passion for God and people, but determined to demonstrate victory through love and not force. He succeeded beyond all comprehension. Jesus began the largest and most enduring movement in history without ever “firing a shot”. Jesus won the war of eternity through the use of His love and with an attitude of peace. He is all inclusive and will never berate or look down on anyone. He simply loves you, and in His love, He brings perfect peace to all who ask. Live in peace with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Diligently, and without exception, work at building unity with one another. Peace will draw us together into unity, and peace will hold that very unity together.
Are you doing all you can to live in peace and unity with all those around you? Are you living that way among your Christian brothers and sisters? It is paramount that we who profess to be followers of Jesus love one another, care for one another and seek unity in all things. The devil takes great delight in our infighting because it frustrates and hinders our effectiveness. We must remember at all times that we have a common enemy. The battle for the Kingdom is not about us, but rather about Christ living through us. The next time you are tempted to gossip, to berate or to lash out at your brother or sister, stop and ask yourself if it is the way Jesus would react. Ask yourself if your words or actions will work toward an environment of unity and peace. Take yourself out of the equation and let the peace of Christ reign among us as we live in unity for His name and His glory.