Throughout history, we’ve seen times of trouble unify people around a common cause or enemy. In a divided world of hatred, offense, and self-interest, we could use some unity today. Perhaps something as insidious as a global pandemic will have the silver lining of unifying humanity, banding us together to fight the virus inflicting many and disrupting life as we knew it.
Only time will tell. What I do know, as followers of Christ, His call is always for us to be unified, not only when trouble abounds. Our unity is so important that Jesus made it the subject of His last prayer for us before He allowed Himself to be crucified (John 17:20-23).
The early church understood and lived out Jesus’s instruction to be unified. The Bible tells us they held all things in common (Acts 2:44-47). What a beautiful picture. Everyone shared in the needs of everyone else. They ate meals together, sold their possessions to give generously to those in need, and worked as one body to care for all those around them. It’s a far cry from the Church we see today. In the city and country where I live, there are so many churches it boggles the mind. Each church spends money on their own buildings and provides activities centered primarily around those who attend at that particular location. It is rare for all those churches to come together for one unified purpose.
We’ve fallen a long way from holding all things in common. In the early Church, they didn’t labor over two hundred separate budgets. There was a common pile of money for sharing with anyone in need. They treated resources as being infinite in the Kingdom of God, relying on Him to supply should they run out. Today, churches carefully stockpile funds to weather potential rainy days. They withhold giving to the poor unless they have attended or completed certain classes at the church. And it is rarer still to find a group of churches pooling their resources for the good of all in the community. We aren’t unified; we’re siloed and isolated.
Even in our relationships with other believers, unity rarely carries the day. We argue over trivial theological matters, politics, and social and environmental differences. We should instead be unified around the gospel of Jesus Christ and being His hands and feet in an ever-darkening world.
For those searching for a little peace, you’ll never find it outside of being unified with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Only by putting Jesus first and ourselves last can we ever hope to experience the life Jesus intends for us to live (Matthew 16:25). So long as we are holding onto any form of selfishness, be it personal or corporate, we won’t be unified, and we won’t find peace. Jesus calls us to give up everything for Him and to give generously to everyone in need (Luke 18:18-30). When we do this individually, we are walking in the will of God. When we do it as a group of believers, all the forces of Hell cannot stand in our way. It’s time to put aside our denominational differences, our political and ethnic divides, and to be unified as one, just as Jesus prayed we would be. When we become unified as a body of believers, we will see the Kingdom of God come down to earth, and His will being done here just as it is in Heaven.