Being Truly Unified
by Lynette Woods
All Scripture references are from The Amplified Bible
|It is obvious that in order for a Body to
function, it must be unified. And yet unity must not
be contrived or produced, or it is merely a facade of
unity brought about by man. It’s pretty obvious that
your fingers or your toes do not have to strive to be
in unity with your body; and likewise those members
who are part of Christ's Body do not have to strive to
be in unity with it! Unity happens naturally as an
outcome of being a member of the Body and all parts
work with each other under the control of the one and
only Head - Jesus Christ. Likewise brothers and
sisters in a family don't need to convince each other
that they are part of the family and that they all
have the one Father; they simply know it and accept it
as a fact. Ephesians 4:3 says to strive to guard
and keep the unity or oneness produced by the
Spirit. It’s not something we can create; it is
something which is produced by the
Spirit of God and we then must endeavour to guard it.
Jesus said: Do you suppose that I have come to bring peace upon earth? No, I say to you, rather division; for from now on in one house there will be five divided among themselves, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother in law against her daughter in law and daughter in law against her mother in law. Lk 12:51-53. Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to part asunder a man from his father and a daughter from her mother and a newly married wife from her mother in law and a man’s foes will be they of his own household. Matt 10:34-36 Hard words!
He caused a lot of division among the religious people of His day, So there arose a division and dissension among the people concerning Him. John 7:43 He was even said to be demonised and mad. Then a fresh division of opinion arose among the Jews because of His saying these things. And many of them said, He has a demon and He is mad. Why do you listen to Him? John 10:19,20.
Not only did Jesus cause division, but Paul did too! And he went into the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, persuading and arguing about the kingdom of God. But when some became more and more stubborn, discrediting and speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he separated himself from them, taking the disciples with him, and went on holding daily discussion in the lecture room of Tyrannus. Acts 19:8,9 When he said this, an angry dispute arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the whole assembly was divided into two factions. Acts 23:7 The believers in New Testament times were controversial! But the residents of the town were divided, some siding with the Jews, and some with the apostles. Acts 14:4
In church history whenever God has been at work, there has been division among Christian families and churches regarding the things that God is doing. Paul in 1 Cor 11:18,19 says ...when you assemble as a congregation, I hear that there are cliques and divisions among you; and I in part believe it, for doubtless there have to be factions among you in order that they who are genuine and of approved fitness may become evident and plainly recognised among you. This shouldn’t surprise us as Jesus told us He didn’t come to bring peace to the earth, to individuals definitely, but not to the earth/world. Light divides. It will always be separated from darkness.
You can imagine them saying in Jesus day that He couldn’t possibly be the Messiah who was meant to be the Prince of Peace because He was disturbing the peace and dividing families! The Jews didn’t recognise that their Messiah was right in their midst, He became a stumbling block to them. Isaiah said of Jesus, He shall be a sanctuary to those who reverently fear and trust in Him; but He shall be a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble thereon; and they shall fall and be broken and be snared and taken. Is 8:14,15. And Peter said To you then who believe is the preciousness (of Him); but for those who disbelieve, the very Stone which the builders rejected has become the main Cornerstone, and a Stone that will (future tense!) cause stumbling and a Rock that will give men offence; they stumble because they disobey and disbelieve God’s Word as those who reject Him were destined and appointed to do. 1 Pet 2:7,8 We need to be very careful that we ourselves are not guilty of spiritual prejudice, self righteousness and traditions which will make us do the very same thing as the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.
The divisions that Paul did warn about were to do with following a man instead of Jesus which is exactly the problem that is rampant in the institutional churches of today: But I urge you brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you be in perfect harmony in what you say and that there be no divisions or factions among you but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your judgments. For ... there are contentions and factions among you. What I mean is this, that each one of you says, I belong to Paul or I belong to Apollos, or I belong to Peter or I belong to Christ. Is Christ divided into parts? Was Paul crucified on behalf of you? ... So then, as it is written, Let him who boasts and glories, boast and glory in the Lord. 1 Cor 1:10-13,31. For when one says I belong to Paul, and another, I belong to Apollos, are you not proving yourselves unchanged men? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Ministering servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord appointed to each his task: I planted, Apollos watered, but God was making it grow and He gave the increase. 1 Cor 3:4-6
We need to remember that we are part of Christ’s Body and we must expect diversity in that Body. We don’t need to be the same to be united! We each have a different function and responsibility and we need to appreciate and accept one another. We also need to beware of those who are not part of the Body of Christ but who purposely cause division, often through denominational differences or man’s doctrines and traditions.
Be on your guard concerning those who create dissensions and cause divisions in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught. I warn you to turn aside from them and avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites... Romans 16:17,18