There are times when the truth will receive a wide hearing and times when it will not. Jesus had a congregation of five thousand one day and four women and two bored soldiers another. His message was the same both days. We must learn to live by the truth, not by our feelings, not by the world’s opinion, not by what the latest statistical survey tells us is the accepted morality, not by what advertisers tell us is the most gratifying lifestyle. We are trained in the biblical faith to take lightly what the experts say, the scholars say, the pollsters say, the politicians say, the pastors say. We are trained to listen to the Word of God, to test everything against what God reveals to us in Christ, to discover all meaning and worth by examining life in relation to God’s will.”
“Here is a very largely forgotten and yet most vital principle. It is certainly the case that the church is called by God to safeguard, publicize and transmit His truth (e.g. 2 Tim 1:13, 14; 2:1, 2); but it is equally the case that the truth is the safeguard of the church, both in the corporate sense of preserving the whole body and in the individual sense of guarding, defending and keeping each member. The life which walks in the truth is impregnable”
“It is this failure that accounts ultimately for all our troubles. We will persist in thinking of God as one of ourselves, as but a man, and we look at his actions as if they were the actions of a human being. We always start with ourselves, with our measures, with our judgements and assessments; and our most fatal error is that even when we come face to face with God, we bring all these measurements with us. Then, because God does not fit into our categories, we say we cannot believe and we reject the message of the gospel.”
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.” (Psalm 133:1-2)
“It’s so important that Christians demonstrate unity”. “God loves unity, in fact we’re even told that unity is the place where his blessing is poured out”. “Is Life Church into church unity?” I hear each of these statements – and more – on a reasonably regular basis. I’m sure you’ve heard similar things. However, the problem with each statement is that no one ever defines what unity looks like. To put it simply, everyone squeezes their own opinion as to what unity looks like into this verse from Psalm 133. So for some, unity is really another way of saying let’s not offend anyone. For others unity is such a narrow and claustrophobic space that, in reality, it only has room for one person (and we know who that is)!
So what is biblical unity?
1. We unite around the gospel
In Ephesians 4:13 the Apostle Paul says,
“… until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”
Notice how unity is directly linked with knowledge. Christian unity is a truth-based unity. This means that we are not to pursue unity at any cost, but our pursuit of unity must be rooted in a passionate pursuit of truth.
2. We unite through our affections
The Apostle Paul says to the church in Rome “Love one another with brotherly affection.” Unity is more than just truth-based. It requires us to exercise the often painful ‘duty’ of affection. That means not allowing bitterness or distance to grow up in your heart. No; you’ve been called to close-proximity love for your brothers and sisters. This means giving and receiving. It involves walking the mountain tops of success together, and trudging through the bare valleys of uncertainty together. Love is an active ingredient and, without unity, will soon become cold and formulaic.
So christian unity has two essential ingredients: truth and affection.