Unity in the Church
Unity. Solidarity. Community. Reconciliation. Fellowship.
These are buzzwords that have been floating around my university and in my heart the past two years. What do these words actually mean? What do they all have in common? How do they play out in the church practically? Since my Junior year of highschool, I have been on a spiritual and theological journey to answer these questions. God is cultivating my vision and calling in the world to see people groups be transformed through experiencing the powerful presence of God through salvation. A product of the transforming work of Jesus Christ is unity amongst believers.
The theological foundation of the church lies in the term “unity” through Christ Jesus. It is through salvation in Jesus Christ that Christians may experience the fellowship with other believers through the spiritually binding power that unity creates. Christ came in order to create one “new man,” a new community of people who are united in Him (Eph. 2:15). The “new man” is a representation of the Christian community as a whole, or a unit. Christ came to break down the barriers separating the entire human race from knowing God, and His death and resurrection are the means by which all believers are reconciled to God (Eph. 2:16). Because now all have access to God through faith in Jesus Christ, all believers are now in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, slave or free, man or woman - all are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 2:28). By reconciling all believers to God through Christ, Jesus simultaneously brought complete peace and unity to all people who are “in Him,” and this is how the one “new man” is corporately created. This may define church unity as follows: “The unity of the church is its degree of freedom from divisions among true Christians.” If God has so graciously reconciled us to Himself, how much more so are we to be reconciled to our fellow brothers and sisters! This twofold message is the central core to the mission and proclamation of Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, true unity will be restored at the end of the age when all nations are reconciled under God and evil has been defeated once and for all. We can look to the book of Revelation to catch a glimpse of this perfected unity. From Revelation 5:11-14, we read,
“Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders and the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
Worthy is the lamb who was slain,
To receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
And honor and glory and blessing!
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
Be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!
And the four living creatures said, Amen! And the elders fell down and worshiped.”
Worship is the result of unity amongst believers. As we seek to make Christ our greatest joy as the body of Christ, we cannot help but move together in worship to our God who is worthy of all honor and glory! North Woodbury family, let us ponder these things as we discern how to practically live out our unity as the body of Christ. As you can see, I am still discovering and learning the answers to the questions I posed at the beginning of this post. In fact, more questions arise to the surface as we think about unity playing out practically in the church. How can we maintain unity through conflict? When do we agree to disagree and when do we need to take a stand on protecting the truth of sound doctrine? When are efforts of maintaining unity taken too far and when are they not enough? Is unity the ultimate goal, or is the ultimate goal to protect the sound truth of the Gospel? We must be careful not to sacrifice the truth of theGospel for the appearance of peace within the church.
Thank you for letting me partner with you for a second summer to learn and grow as an intern for North Woodbury. May we walk together as a church body as we seek to know and love Christ above all else.
Walking with you,