Throughout the Bible unity is commended.
Psalm 133 tells us:
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life for evermore.
Jesus in the Upper Room prayed for His disciples, according to John 17:20-23:
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Paul teaches us in Ephesians 4:11-13 that unity is a sign of Christian maturity, as the gifts of the risen Lord Jesus are used in His service:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Unity is an essential part of our gospel witness because it shows how the Lord is able to turn a group of disparate people into His body, and our oneness testifies to the truth that Jesus is Lord.
That is why as Christians we should always seek unity.
We should seek unity in the local church. Unity is a sign of spiritual health and a precursor of growth. By contrast, where there are factions, where there is disunity, we can hardly be surprised if the Lord does not bless our gatherings. To put it another way, where there is division, the body of Christ cannot multiply. That is why we constantly need to live under the cross, practising radical forgiveness one with another, and keeping the Lord as our main focus.
We should seek unity across churches. When I arrived in Devonport nearly fourteen years ago, there was no history of collaboration across denominations. It has been a long, long wait but over the past few years gradually the Lord has raised up leaders with a common vision for the gospel. This evening we had our first regular united service and I long for this unity to reach on down into the lives of every member of every church.
Unity may be costly. Unity may involve sacrificing our personal agendas. Unity may force us to consider how to love our neighbour as ourselves. But as we enter Holy Week, we need to remember Jesus gave up His life not just for us as individuals but to win for Himself a holy people who would serve as His body here on earth.
So let us make this prayer which Paul prayed for the church at the Rome our very own. Romans 15:5-6:
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement 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.
Because that spirit of unity is the Holy Spirit, and where the Lord is at work by His Spirit there is truly no limit to what He can do in us and through us.