What Can We Learn From Stories Of Unity In The Bible?

 I have never yet known the Spirit of God to work where the Lord’s people were divided.

Dwight L. Moody

Christian unity has nothing to do with looking the same or being the same as other Christians. It has everything to do with what we believe and where we get the basis for our beliefs. 

What Is Christian Unity?

We might define unity in one word, and that is oneness. Unity in the Bible is demonstrated throughout Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, using many examples and stories.

In the local church, which is the body of Christ, we strive for oneness in the Spirit, or the ability to work together toward a common goal, which is, simply put, that of Christ’s body doing Christ’s work. 

This work of Christ has many parts, and the goal of each is the spreading of the Gospel as we carry out the Great Commission, demonstrating love, growth of mature Christians, care for God’s people, and an innumerable list of other special assignments, gifts, and talents that God has equipped His people with. 

The goal of unity among Christians should not be simply to agree with each other on every subject. Our goal must be to agree with Christ since we are the church, which is Christ’s body. The whole body works together in unity with Him to accomplish His purposes.  

Just as the human body Is made up of thousands of parts working together, so is the body of Christ. Therefore, the many functions of the church cannot be lumped into just one principle or concept to be agreed upon by all.

God has given us the Scriptures as our guidebook, the Bible, which in turn shapes our worldview, and is what determines the way we look at everything in life.

Believing and following the Bible as our worldview should be a prerequisite for unity among believers since that is where our beliefs, thought processes, goals, decisions, and even our speech and emotions stem from.

The Importance Of Unity In the Bible

Since we humans are created beings, we will not be perfect on this side of heaven, therefore unity is not necessarily thinking the same as everyone else. With effective communication, we can set aside our personal preferences to agree with God. 

Because we have the Bible, which is the word of God, we can know how He wants us to live and we can follow His way. Whenever our weaknesses get in the way, we should always turn back to His word for guidance. 

At one time even the disciples in the New Testament disagreed about some very important issues. But they met for what is now known as the Jerusalem Council and discussed those issues, each making their point.

They worked through their disagreement until they were unified in their presentation. They loved and understood each other, working out the issues together in the unity of the faith. 

After all, if the world sees the church as out of sync and divided, how can they trust us to bring truth to them? The answer is simply – we can’t bring them truth ourselves. We must bring them the only truth that is solid and unchanging – that is written in the Scriptures. 

Bible Verses About Unity In The Bible

There are many Scriptures about Christian unity. Each of the following nine Scriptures gives us instruction in how to be unified as a Christian body of believers.

Psalms 133:1

How delightfully good when brothers live together in harmony!

We would all agree that living and working together in harmony is the best kind of environment to live or work in.

Ephesians 4:11-13

And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” 

Until we reach this unity in the faith, we Christians can study the Scriptures, attend and serve in the local church, and learn from other believers who go before us. Doing these things will help to guide us into walking in unity with God’s people. 

Romans 12:4-5

“Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.” 

We are all individuals and have many different qualities and characteristics from other people. But God uses our differing strengths and weaknesses to build the body of Christ Jesus, the church. 

Acts 4:32

“Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common.” 

The early Christians gave us a wonderful example of the unity of the Spirit. 

Ephesians 4:4-6

“There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope at your calling – One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. “

Ephesians 4:4-7 (MSG)

“You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.” 

This passage, from both the CSB translation and the Message Bible above, agrees and clarifies the other passages we have been reading: We Christians are meant to stick together, all of us under the Lord Jesus Christ.

He is the One who makes us one group of people, yet each one a unique individual, all bound together with the common thread of that special kind of unity – the unity of the Spirit, and such perfect unity it is!

Romans 15:5-6

“Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice.” 

Here, Paul spells it out with even more simplicity. God is our source of endurance and encouragement to do this thing called unity. And with Him as our source, we are also to glorify Him together, with our minds and our voices joining together as one. 

Psalm 34:3 (NCV)

“Glorify the Lord with me, and let us praise his name together.” 

Even the writer of this Psalm understood that we should join together in glorifying and praising God!

1 Corinthians 1:10

“I appeal you dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other.  Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” 

The apostle Paul wrote much about unity. In this particular letter to the church at Corinth, he is addressing a disagreement between members of the church. He continues the conversation by asking, “Has Christ been divided into factions: Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!” (1 Corinthians 1:13 – NLT) 

The people were apparently looking at their teacher (Paul) as the one they would follow. But Paul was the first to say they shouldn’t be following him, but Christ.

When we look to Christ as our leader and Savior, we won’t be easily confused. Because we are members of the body of Christ, He is our perfect example, whose Name we follow and whose authority we place ourselves under. 

Stories Of Unity In The Bible 

The Bible is full of examples of unity. I’ve highlighted some of my favorite Bible Stories about unity in this list. Many of these examples don’t point to specific instructions or commands to be unified but serve to show us how to live out the unity that we are so frequently instructed to develop. 

  • The early church stands out to me when referring to unity in the Bible. These New Testament believers were suddenly strong where they had been weak and demonstrated the bond of peace spoken of in Ephesians 4. Read all about the early church in the Book of Acts
  • Nehemiah and the Israelites of the Old Testament, who rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem, show us a fascinating example of unity. When Nehemiah was threatened by enemies of the rebuilding effort, Nehemiah kept his eyes on God and ignored all of the detractors and distractions the enemies placed in his way. The people became more determined as they worked with Nehemiah, completing the wall in an amazingly short period of time. The Book of Nehemiah tells this wonderful story. 
  • Daniel and his three Israelite friends showed us unity as they lived in captivity to a pagan nation, with their faith at the forefront, honoring God in everything they did (and didn’t do). Read about them in the Book of Daniel. 
  • Paul started many Christian churches as he traveled the continent to spread the Gospel message. When he was away from the churches, he kept in touch by letters, twelve (or thirteen) of which are in the New Testament. He stressed the importance of unity to these churches and demonstrated it himself to them all. Paul wrote a common description of unity in his first letter to the Corinthian church. He explains that God created humans to be made up of many different parts of the body which coordinate together to make the whole body work as one, in perfect harmony, and this is how unity in the church works. (Pauls’s letters are Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians, First and Second Timothy, and possibly Hebrews).
  • In the Book of Ruth, Naomi and Ruth had an unusual relationship for that time. Ruth was Naomi’s foreign-born daughter-in-law. When both of their husbands died, Ruth insisted on accompanying Naomi back to Naomi’s homeland, where Ruth would be a stranger, and may even be considered an outcast because she wasn’t a natural-born Hebrew, but a foreigner, a Gentile. When we read the book of Ruth, we can see that  Naomi nurtured Ruth in the traditions of her country, and most likely taught her about the Jewish belief system, also. 
  • While David was awaiting the kingship, his life was pursued by the current king, Saul. David had several chances to kill Saul so that he could go free and stop being a fugitive. But when given the chance, David kept his unity with God and refused to tamper with God’s plan. He refused to touch “the Lord’s anointed,” and was instead satisfied with waiting for God’s timing. David’s story shows up in First and Second Samuel, First Kings, and First Chronicles, and mentions of him are scattered throughout the whole Bible. 

These examples of unity can teach us how to promote church unity in the body of believers. Prayer for the believers in the early church was one of the ways that Paul drew people of totally different backgrounds together in the newly formed churches. Praying for the church is still and always will be a vital way of unifying the church body. 

Love for the people of God grows out of sincere love for the Lord, which in turn creates unity among believers.

We must be sure to understand the meaning of true Biblical unity. Just being united toward any old common goal is not necessarily the same as Biblical unity.  However, working side by side with others for the cause of Christ, spreading the Gospel, is a great way to experience spiritual growth and become unified with Christian brothers and sisters. 

I once had a Pastor who frequently exhorted the congregation, saying, “Church, be the church!”. We are the church when we work together under the authority of Christ, demonstrating God’s love for each other. This is true Christian unity, unity in action.  

This type of unity effectively takes place by the power of the Holy Spirit as He fills the body of believers – Christ’s living body on earth – and equips us to “be the church”.   

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