Why Does Unity Matter?
We live in a world which seems to be increasingly divisive. It seems that the last few years, and maybe even the last few months, have created an environment where the us-against-them mentality is at an all-time high.
However, as we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Division has been a part of the world ever since Adam said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me…” Cain killed Abel, and things got bad enough that God re-created the world with the flood. But, before long, unity is gone again (Genesis 9:20-29).
Throughout biblical history, we see division. We see the us-against-them. We see people looking to preserve and exalt themselves. The people grumble in the wilderness, the people do what is right in their own eyes in the time of the judges, and the nation eventually divides itself along geographic lines and seeks to do harm to one another.
When Jesus comes, we find division among those who follow Him. The disciples are reminiscent of their ancestors. Those who spend the most time with Jesus also seem to spend the most time arguing amongst themselves as to which one will be the greatest or which one will have the best position in the kingdom.
Even after the resurrection, the problem persists. Read the letters to the Corinthians. First Corinthians begins with a critique of the cliques and the people’s divisive attitudes.
What’s the problem? Why is this such a persistent theme in Scripture? On the one hand, sin is the problem. As we see from the days of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, sin will ultimately manifest itself in the blame game and injustices committed toward others.
But it goes even deeper than this. Perhaps a failure in unity is due to a lack of appreciation for who God truly is. One of the things that makes the Christian faith unique from other religions is the belief that God exists as three—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is great diversity in the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit. And yet, there is also perfect unity. In John 5:19, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” Furthermore, the Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of Christ” (1 Peter 1:11) as well as “the Spirit of His Son” (Galatians 4:6).
God is united. We could also say that God is one. If this is the case, then God’s people are to be united. God’s people are to be one.
We do not strive for unity because our culture values the ideal of unity. We do not strive for unity simply because it sounds like a nice concept. Ultimately, we strive for unity because we strive to represent the God we serve. God is united. Christians should be, too.