How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!  (Psalm 133:1)

I am so grieved when I see disunity in the church. Recently, two churches in Anaheim are going through church fights. The Anaheim Free Methodist church, which my family formerly attended, is being forced into a takeover by another church and this has resulted in legal action. Also, Dwelling Place formerly Anaheim Vineyard, a church which once started an international movement, is involved in a lawsuit brought by former members.

What does it mean for believers to walk as one or in unity? I define twelve reasons or characteristics of unity.

What is Unity?

1.  Unity is commanded by God in order to bring witness to others.

If the church walks in oneness, God says the world will be able to know Jesus.  On the other hand, if the church walks in disunity, Satan is winning.  Satan understands our predisposition for independence and works to undermine unity as described in John 17.

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me.., 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… so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  (John 17:23-23)

2.  Unity or Oneness is the very nature of God.

Unity is not a church program but is the very nature of God. God is the holy trinity. (Genesis 1:1) Father God, Jesus and Holy Spirit are one and demonstrate the perfect example of unity. Jesus said he can do nothing without the Father. (John 5:19, 30) The greatest emotional heartache on the cross is when Jesus felt separated from the Father. (Matthew 27:46) I believe that Jesus died of a broken heart because of the separation from the Father. Separation is the great killer of life.

When the church is separated or in disunity, we should grieve. Unfortunately, Christians hurting other Christians is becoming normal and even acceptable behavior. Christians use kingdom sounding reasons to justify disunity.

3.  Jesus died for unity.

Jesus died on the cross so that groups that once were separated could be one. When we bring disunity into the church, we go against the very purposes of Jesus’ death.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility…  (Ephesians 2:14-17)

4.  Unity is not the same culture, background, personality, theology or gifting.

Unity is not uniformity. We don’t have look alike, dress alike, or worship in the same way.  Years ago, I could not watch African Christians dancing because my upbringing believed it was wrong. Over time, I realized my upbringing was wrong. Today, I love the African style of worship. Unity embraces diversity. Unity embraces different cultures, personalities, and even different theological positions.  Unfortunately, our theological differences have resulted in thousands of church denominations.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

5.  Unity means everyone is important.  

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”  (I Corinthians 12:12)

Every person in the church is important, not just the ones who agree with the Pastor.  Every child and every senior is important. God often speaks His direction to the church through the person you least expect, even a child. (I Corinthians 12:12-30)  God calls the church the priesthood of believers which means all believers have access to God. Revelation is given to all, for I Corinthians 14:31 says, “all can prophesy.”

6.  Unity is surrendering your personal agendas, strategies, ambition, titles, and position.

Personal agendas can limit one from seeing God’s bigger purposes.  We are called to deny ourselves daily. (Luke 9:23)  Two opposing opinions does not mean either one is wrong. Trying too hard to defend one’s position may result in missing God’s direction.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9)  

An earthly title or position may deceive one into thinking that he/she has more advanced knowledge of God’s will. Even Jesus cried out to the Father for direction, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) Jesus did not come to earth to do his will, but the will of the Father. (John 6:38) 

In the book of Acts, chapter 6, the church was starting to push their personal agendas and were on the verge of complaining. But God revealed a new plan for the church, and the people let go of their personal agendas and were able to walk in unity. (Acts 6:5-6)

7.  Unity is “love and honor” regardless of roles of ministry and calling.

Jesus said that loving others is always the prime directive. I have seen too many examples of Christians witnessing about Jesus without love resulting in people feeling used and moving further away from Christ. I have seen too many leaders make unilateral decisions which devalued and dishonored people.  Sadly, I have also made these mistakes.  Loving and honoring others always needs to be the end goal.

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”  ( Romans 12:10)

“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.”  (I Peter 2:17)

8.  Unity is knowing when the group gathers, they will hear God better than being alone.

My prayer is only one piece of the puzzle. Together with the Body of Christ, we can finish the whole puzzle and see God’s direction.

At The Light Christian Fellowship and before each Sunday morning worship service, we have a short prayer meeting. Numerous times, someone’s prayer changed the direction of the worship service including the message.

In hierarchical decision making, where the pastor is the head of the church, his/her voice takes precedent. But when Jesus is the head of the church, everyone can contribute. Everyone’s prayer and voice is important. 

9.  Unity takes effort.

Unity does not come naturally. Our natural tendency is independence, unilateral decision making and establishing our personal authority. Developing close friendships is a long process filled with messy misunderstandings, hurting disagreements, hard arguments and moments of humble forgiveness and reconciliation. Ultimately, those who persevere toward unity create the atmosphere for Jesus to come. (Matthew 18:19-20)

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

10. Unity resulted in sharing of possessions.

One of the displays of unity in the early church is the sharing of material possessions with one another.  This is not necessarily a mandate for the church today but when the church walks with “one in heart and mind” possessions are shared.  Giving is not from forced obedience but when unity is created a spirit of giving flows.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. (Acts 4:32)

11.  Unity is the sign of Spiritual Growth.

Ephesians 4:11-13, says the end result of a believer is: unity of faith, knowledge of Jesus, and maturity.  Unity is one of the true marks of spiritual growth.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his 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.  (Ephesians 4:11-13)

12.  Unity is the sign of Authority and His Presence.

When Jesus ministered on earth, he was only effective when he did whatever the Father told him to do.  

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.  (John 20:19)

It does not take hundreds of people to have the authority and power of God. God works in the unity of two or three.  

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. or where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  (Matthew 18:19-20)

Before the disciples started their ministry, God called them to pray and wait for the Holy Spirit to come. As they waited, they came into “one accord” or unity resulting in the Holy Spirit coming upon them.

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (Acts 2:1-4)

God calls believers to walk in unity.
Unity is hard work and hard to maintain.
God the Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit is the ultimate display of unity.
Jesus died for unity.
When there is unity, people are valued and honored.
When there is unity, God speaks and power is released.
When there is unity, God’s direction is revealed.
When there is unity, God’s command is fulfilled.
When there is unity, God’s authority and presence are revealed.
When there is unity, unbelievers will believe.

I want to thank Pastor Albert Zehr, Church of Zion, Vancouver, for his teaching, “The Corporate Walk” which inspired and contributed to my article.  LINK to his article.  I am also thankful for the Church of Zion which has put these principles into practice.  I continue to hear amazing stories of how the church walks together in unity.


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