“When one of you says, I am a follower of Paul, and another says, I follow Apollos, are you not acting like people of the world.” I Corinthians 3:4.
In Romans 12, Apostle Paul used the human body to analyse how the Church is expected to function. The human body functions effectively when all components are intact and united. When any part of the body is weak or hurt, the whole body bears the pain, and the body system works together to ensure that that part of the body is restored to its normal potential. The bottom line is, no part of the human body can function in isolation without the help of other parts.
The body of Christ is one. This is far from any form of equivocation. The body of Christ, like the human body, must function with absolute sync for effective propagation of the gospel of salvation and the expansion of the kingdom of God. When any part of the body is weak or in pain, the whole body system is affected.
“So, in Christ we who are many are one body, and each member belongs to one another,” Romans 12:5.
The body of Christ comprises of all Christians, working together to fulfil the Great Commission – “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19.
The church, as the body of Christ, is expected to be intact until the second coming of Christ without spots or wrinkles. To carry out the Great Commission without hindrances and with all unbeatable strength needed, the body must be in the right state of mind, healthy and like a united broom that is uneasily broken.
Unity means to be in togetherness, with one sense of purpose. A united group achieves its purpose in record time and with less challenge. In Acts 2, the Holy Ghost descended on the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, at a time they were united; according to the King James Version of the Bible, they were in one accord. The implication of this is that had they not been in one accord, the Holy Spirit would not have descended on them.
Uniting with one purpose helps the church to achieve corporate vision, it also ensures that battles fought are won with resounding victory. In I Samuel 30, David and his soldiers were able to recover their abducted families and stolen properties from the Amalekites because they were united, putting aside the temporary pain of such loss. I Samuel 30:8, “And David inquired at the Lord, saying, shall I pursue after this troop, shall I overtake them and he answered him, pursue for thou shall surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.” God’s presence is felt in a lace, group or association that is united. He becomes not just a factor but the Factor, the driving force of the group.
A house that stands against itself will not stand; in a matter of time, it would crumble block after block. This is a major danger and the ultimate end of a disunited association. Discordant tunes breeds confusion and a house in confusion travels on the path of destruction; such is inevitable. The creator of man Himself understands the importance of unity among men. He knows that a united people can achieve the infinite. In Genesis 11:1-9, the tower of Babel was able to stand to a point due to the sense of purpose and one language that men spoke at that time. God acknowledged that they would be unstoppable unless they were scattered. The only solution was to decentralize their language, and that marked the end of the construction of the tower of Babel.
In John 17:21, while Jesus prayed for His disciples and by extension, Christians and Christianity as a whole, He said, “that they all may be one… as thou, the Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us”. The big question then is, are Christians united?
In his view, John Piper, the founder of Desiring God organization said, “Paul says that pastors and teachers are to equip the saints “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…” (Ephesians 4:13). The unity we pursue is the unity of truth… Christian unity is more than share truth but not less.”
Piper, said about the need for unity amongst Christians, “…to be sure, unifying love in the body of Christ includes a rugged commitment to do good for the family of God, whether you feel like it or not (Galatians 6:10). But, as difficult as it is for diverse people, the experience of Christian unity is more than that. It includes affectionate love; not just sacrifice for those you don’t like. It is a feeling of endearment. We are to have affection for those who are our family in Christ.”
For him, he urged that Christians must as a matter of extreme importance, cultivate affection across differences for those who are truly brothers and sisters in Christ. “Hate serious blunders, not sincere brothers. Humans have never been good at this. And the philosophical and emotional climate today makes it even harder – since truth claims are only seen as a cloak for power-grabbing.”
Christianity, Christians and the Church experience persecution in today’s world just as Jesus Christ said it would be, however, some of the experiences across the world are avoidable, if Christians are united in spirit. Bishop Dr. Azad Marshal, the leader of the Church of Pakistan, gave this advice to Christians in that part of the world: “Let us not be divided by denominational and political differences. Instead, let us focus on our shared faith and the challenges we face as Christians”.
When Christians and the church put aside their differences or arguments about which denomination has the superior doctrine, the church will begin to speak with one language and the tower of unity would begin construction in earnest.
During his ecumenical visit to Geneva in 2018 for the anniversary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Pope Francis said the world craves for unity among Christians. He said as disciples of Christ, Christians are expected to pray together, evangelise and serve others. “Our lack of unity is not only contrary to God’s will; it is also a scandal to the world. The Lord asks us for unity; our world, torn by all-too-many divisions that affect the most vulnerable, begs for unity.”
The Holy Father said his visit to the WCC was solely to promote unity and peace in Christendom. He observed that divisions between Christians have often arisen because “at their root, a worldly mindset has seeped in.” Following Christ, according to him, entails loss because it does not adequately protect the interest of individual communities, often closely linked to ethnic identity. “First, self-concern took priority over concern for Christ and from there, it was easy for the devil to move in separating us.”
Christians must belong to the Lord above and before they identify with anything else, “right or left, to choose in the name of the Gospel, our brothers and sisters over ourselves,” he said.
The Regional Youth Pastor of Region 10, Pastor Odun Emasealu, said, unity in the church draws anointing. Making reference to Psalm 133:1, he said, “Once there is unity, there is a blessing reserved. God says there is a blessing reserved for people that pray together in unity.”