The topic of Christian unity is an important matter that deserves the serious attention of every member of the Lord’s church. Our Lord Jesus Himself emphasized the importance of having His disciples being united in the faith through His prayer.
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me”(John 17:20-21).
In view of the above passage, we need to understand that the mission of Christ is divine in that He has come to this world to preach the gospel message of salvation so that those who obey Him would have the hope of eternal life in heaven.Hence, the world would be convicted by the good news of Christ and believe that Christianity is divine when they are able to witness for themselves the strong unity amongst Christ’s disciples.
As we flip through the pages of the Holy Scriptures, we will also read of several other passages that emphasise the importance of unity amongst the believers of Christ. Consider what the apostle Paul has written.
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Here, in this passage, the apostle Paul was addressing the church at Corinth pertaining to matters on unity as it was observed that there were contentions amongst the Corinthian brethren. In particular, the congregation at Corinth was not divided on matters of sound doctrine.
In this regard, we can observe that the teaching of Paul, Apollos, Cephas and Christ was one and the same thing.However, the rebuke of Paul was concerned with the opinions of individual brethren because they have caused divisions amongst themselves by choosing to follow various teachers (1 Corinthians 1:11-13).
So, what important lesson can we learn from the example of the church at Corinth? As members of the Lord’s church at Jurong, let us always take heed that having uncontrolled pride concerning one’s opinion about spiritual matters could result in divisions within the body of Christ.
When there are contentions within the church, it will be difficult for brethren to speak the same thing and be joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. The outcome will be disunity within the members of the Lord’s church and this is what Satan ultimately desires to see happening to the church.
Moreover, let us also take heed to the warning mentioned by the apostle Paul in Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”
As God’s people, we will not deny that the church should be united. However, it is a very different thing to propose that anything unscriptural should be tolerated in order to promote unity amongst brethren. In the light of this argument, we need to recognise that any form of unity taken at the expense of accepting doctrines or practices not authorised in the New Testament is clearly not the kind of unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17.
Hence, it shouldn’t surprise that the introduction of unscriptural teachings and practices over time since the establishment of the Lord’s church is responsible for the birth of denominationalism.
There are currently so many thousands of denominations and the denominational world is making an effort to arrive at some type of union among themselves, which has resulted in the ‘unity in diversity movement’, known as the Ecumenical Movement.
In essence, the main thrust of this movement recognises that there are indeed many differences in the teachings of various denominations, but this would not be a major issue as they still can extend fellowship amongst one anotherand be united as the family of God.
Brethren, as we examine the Word of God, let us remember that Jesus must be honoured as our King and His New Testament as the only rule of faith and practice.
In Ephesians 1:22-23, the Scripture reads: “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
This passage of Scriptures tells us that Christ is the head of His church and all of His disciples are expected to be in submission to His will.
Furthermore, the apostle Paul also tells us in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Thus, we can understand that the only scriptural basis for unity will be for members of the Lord’s church to have the mind of Christ, which can only happen when we accept what He says and do as He requires. To this end, the Word of God is the basis for scriptural unity.