The Glue for Unity

Robert F. Turner

Our Lord's prayer for "oneness" of believers (John 17:20ff) emphasizes the desirability of unity, and it's effect ("that they may believe that Thou didst send me"). This unity is defined as based upon and growing out of a "oneness" with God; the result of teaching that had been accepted and followed. "And I make known unto them Thy name, and will make it known; that the love wherewith Thou lovest me may be in them, and I in them."

Men have long recognized the need for unity, but they have not always accepted Christ's concept-or it's essence, nor of the way to attain it. Catholicism, viewing the body politic, has used organizational bonds to hold its many parts together. Protestant denominationalism, particularly in its beginning formulated "creeds" or lists of "I believes" as bonds of fellowship. The "party spirit" flourished, and peer pressure or unwritten laws from "our church" have been used to hold various sectarians together. And in more recent times, social needs have supplanted spiritual matters. By ignoring God's word, and stressing "unity in diversity" others have accepted "union" in place of unity. The cults are often bound by loyalty to a human founder rather than to Christ.

Our diverse society, with its emphasis on individuality, may despair of being "joined together in the same mind and judgment" (1 Cor 1:10), for in one sense, this is impossible. We judge subjectively, out of our knowledge, experience, and background; and none of us exactly alike. But all saints can and should "have a mind" to serve Jesus Christ, and their judgments and opinions should spring from and be governed by that single goal.

1 Peter 3:8 tells us to be of one mind, then describes that "mind". It is sympathetic, brother-loving, compassionate, humble, etc. Paul wrote to the Philippians: "Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil 2:2-8). The welding together of differing individuals, through their common desire to think like, obey like, and be like their Lord, is that which commands the attention of the world and causes them to believe.

When brethren differ in their understanding of the will of God, the fact that they differ is not destructive of unity as much as the selfish "mind" which may exist. If both desire truth, and recognize the same standard of truth, they can study together drawing closer to one another as they draw closer to Christ. One need not condone or participate in error during the process. But when we seek to force "unity" by organization, creed, party lines, or carnal pressures, we may expect only more of the same. Nothing will glue brethren together like the genuine love of God.