Unity is a big deal. It’s such a big deal that it was at the front of Jesus’ mind leading up to his death on the cross. It was one of the last things Jesus prayed for (Jn. 17:20-21).
When I was preaching from 1 Corinthians 3 recently I caught something I’d never noticed before. Division was a big problem in the church in Corinth. Unity was such a big deal that Paul said this…
“If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person.” 1 Corinthians 3:17
Paul’s writing about unity in 1 Cor. 3. In his mind, being united is so important that if someone destroys God’s church by dividing it, Paul says God will destroy that person.
That’s sobering. When you couple Paul’s words with Jesus’ prayer at the end of his life, it gives you some perspective about how important unity is. It’s a really big deal.
If unity is as big a deal as it sounds like it is to Jesus and Paul, then it’s something that needs to be pursued proactively. After all, even if there’s peace in one local church, the global body of Christ is still splintered hundreds, if not thousands, of times over.
It’s great to experience unity in one local church family. But, we need a bigger vision for what it means to be united. We should look for every opportunity to pursue unity with all those who claim to follow Jesus.
Here are three ways I try to pursue unity…
1. Pray for unity with other believers.
A few years ago my wife, Katie, and I realized we’re connected to a fairly small group of Christians. We started talking about our desire to know believers from different fellowships and denominations. I started praying about it.
At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, it wasn’t long until I had several opportunities to form friendships with Christians from different backgrounds. I’m not sure if God led those people to me or if I was more aware of the opportunities that were already there.
Either way, when I started pursuing unity through prayer, God answered.
2. Find opportunities to serve with other Christians.
Our family was touched by adoption several years ago. Since that time our family, in particular Katie, has developed a passion for serving women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy. This led us to our local crisis pregnancy clinic.
Katie started volunteering. She became friends with the other Christian women who work there. This allowed me to get to know them and there families, too. We’ve grown to love these people. We’re encouraged by what God is doing through them.
For us, serving with other Christians through a local service organization has been one of the most proactive steps toward unity we’ve ever taken.
3. Look for common ground.
I’ve found that I have a lot more similarities with Christians outside of my tribe than I have differences. When someone tells me they’re a believer, I don’t feel the need to question them. I just believe them.
Determining who’s in the kingdom and who’s not is above our pay grade. I want to look for common ground. Sure, we may need to challenge one another at times. But, correction and challenge are always best within the context of friendship.
What are some things you’ve done to pursue unity? I’d love for you to share your thoughts. Leave a comment below.