As I mentioned in a previous post (“Unity: The Series“), this week I’m writing a series on the topic of unity among the body of Christ. Yesterday, I suggested that we are united in Christ, but we are not generally living in that unity (“We ARE united, but we are NOT united“). Now, remember, I am talking about unity among those who are in Christ, who are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, who are followers of Jesus Christ, who are children of God. This is the beginning point of my series. Throughout the series, you can assume that these are the people that I am talking about.
In that last post, I said that the reason we are not living in the unity that we actually have in Jesus Christ is that we fail to do the work of unity. I pointed to the following passage penned by Paul to the church in Ephesus:
I [Paul] therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body… (Ephesians 4:1-3a ESV)
In that passage, Paul says that “walking in a manner worthy of our calling” in Jesus Christ is reflected in the way that we interact with people who disagree with us, that is, by responding to them in humility, gentleness, patience, love, being eager (or making every effort) to maintain the unity that we already have in the Spirit.
There is a similar passage in another letter that Paul wrote, this one to the believes in Phillipi. There is a focus on unity and fellowship throughout that letter, but especially at the beginning of chapter 2:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV)
Again, the work of unity is found in seeking love instead of seeking to fulfill one’s own desires. It’s found in considering others more important and looking out for their interests. Or, in a word that we find in both passages, the work of unity is found in humility.
Notice that Paul says this work of unity flows out of our encouragement in Christ, our fellowship in the Spirit, and our love for one another. This is not something that we attempt to drum up on our own. We can’t. But, since we are in Christ, everything needed to carry out this work of unity is already present.
Finally, just after this passage, in Philippians 2:5-11, Paul again points his readers back to Christ as the ultimate example in this kind of humility – an example of putting others first, of refusing to hold on to what was rightfully his so that we could serve others.
So, humility is the work of unity. Then, what is the work of divisiveness?
Series on Unity
- Unity: The Series
- We ARE united, but we are NOT united
- Doing the work of unity
- Doing the work of division
- Unity begins and ends in Jesus Christ