On our recent tour of the ministry in England, Ireland, northern Ireland, and Germany, Sally and I sensed the Lord was putting strong emphasis on a few specific words. One of those. . .was the word UNITY. It seems that in every place from Belfast to Munich, the Lord was shouting, “Unity! Unity! Unity!” So upon our return, I decided to study the word “unity” from the biblical standpoint.
To my amazement, my comprehensive concordance indicated that the word was used only once in the Old Testament – in Psalm 133 – and in the New Testament only in Ephesians 4:3 and 4:13. This concordance is based on the King James version of the Bible, so I decided to check the concordance for the New International Version, from which I now teach most often. I found three other places in the New Testament where the word “unity” is used. This means that other Creek words used in the original writings were being translated into the English word.
So, since the word I intended to study is an English word, I decided to see its full meaning in our own language. I found the following definitions: UNITY: a) The state of being ONE. b) SINGLENESS. c) The ABSENCE of DIVERSITY. d) A TOTALITY of related parts. e) CONTINUITY, without change, in PURPOSE and ACTION. f) HARMONY.
Now, let’s take a look at those four uses of the word UNITY in the New Testament. First, in Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17 He says to the Father, “I have given them [that’s us] the glory that you gave me, that they may be ONE as we are ONE….May they be brought to complete UNITY…to let the world know that you sent me.” (emphasis mine)
That’s the “state of being ONE – SINGLENESS! And for what purpose? To be a witness to the world! To let them know how Jesus relates to God, the Father. Our one-ness, our SINGLENESS, our TOGETHERNESS in the Body of Christ is to be a demonstration to the world of God’s love for them. Of course, we usually look at this from the standpoint of the many denominations and factions into which the Church is divided; but we are hearing today over and over again the cry of the Lord, “Get it together in your homes and in your local fellowship. Then I can ‘build My Church’ in such a way that ‘the gates of hell’ cannot prevail against it.” The gates of Hell can and have PREVAILED against the Church, which is suffering and struggling against Man’s divisions; and that applies most seriously at the local church and fellowship level.
Then in Romans 15:5: “May God give you a SPIRIT OF UNITY among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with ONE heart and mouth, you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER just as Christ accepted you.”
To accept one another, to have a SPIRIT OF UNITY, is to develop an ABSENCE OF DIVERSITY. That means that we must come to AGREEMENT – a singleness of mind and purpose. Nine times out of ten, when each of us expresses his own personal views on a subject, we think we may all be in disagreement. But the truth is that each person is expressing only a part of the whole. Ask five people, “What is your very favorite pie?”, and you’ll get five different answers….But set in front of each of them a slice of a slice of Boston cream [pie], and they will come into agreement quickly! That’s a very simple parable about UNITY – the ABSENCE OF DIVERSITY. Every member of the Body lays down his own personal desires in favor of the common interests, goals, and purposes AND the needs of the whole Body.
“For I tell you that Christ has become a SERVANT of the Jews to confirm the promises made to their fathers so that the Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy.”
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”. Number 31, June 1983.