So in keeping with our current theme this week, I wanted to share some thoughts on unity. I was reading the other day in John 17. This passage was Jesus’ prayer for the believers — both the believers of His day AND future believers which is US!!! Did you know Jesus prayed for you?
In today’s world, it feels (especially in recent times) that we are getting more and more divided. People are divided in religious beliefs, in political beliefs, and even divided in opinions about whether to wear a mask or not, or whether to get a vaccine or not… And you see it on the news where sometimes this split gets heated! This division is an intentional tactic of the enemy. If he can get us divided we can’t stand (remember, a house divided can’t stand! Matt 12:22-28).
While I was reading John 17, I began to realize that this is the whole point. If we believe in Jesus, what else matters? As the Church on the earth, we need to focus on what unites us — our belief in Christ’s salvation. Our trust that He is the way the truth the life (John 14:6). If we agree on that, nothing else matters. If we agree on Christ, then all the other doctrinal beliefs, personal opinions, and differences between us become just an issue between God and that person. We have to allow God to work out the truth in their heart, just as we trust God to do the same for us. They may be wrong, and maybe they never see it, but that’s between them and God — just as we may be wrong and have to surrender our opinions and false beliefs to the truth of God’s word as the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. And maybe we never figure it out until we get to Heaven, but that’s where God’s grace comes in. As we realize our own faults and allow God to work on us, let’s see others who disagree with us in that same light and trust that God is working in them as well. We have to walk in unity with the body of Christ. Like I said, it’s simple — if they believe in Jesus as the Son of God and He is the only way to salvation, then we can be friends, we are united in Christ. Everything else is trivial.
So there are two ways to think about this. 1: this is great news! This means you are not alone! Your circle of friends just got bigger! And the way to unite people is to work the change in ourselves first. If you approach people with a focus on unity, they will feel accepted and you can work together. But if you treat them differently because you see them as different, they will pick up on that as well. Check out Proverbs 18:24!
The second way to see this is in situations where there is not unity and what you can do to start to turn that around. For instance, do you have a disagreement with someone? Go talk to them! Are you offended with someone? Go talk to them! Work it out! Is your boss harsh, but also a believer? Do your work as unto the Lord and not to please your boss (Colossians 3:23). Favor will start to flow. Pursue peace at all costs! (Hebrews 12:14, Romans 12:18, Psalm 34:14, Ephesians 4:3). Take whatever road leads to peace in the situation and you could gain back a friend in Christ.
So I would encourage you to take your journal and look back at your past actions. Are you pursuing peace and unity? Or are you sowing division and discord? Are your words and actions uplifting or scathing?
Read John 17 and the scriptures mentioned above. How is God speaking to you through these scriptures? How can you move toward operating in more peace with others? What can you do to move toward unity with your fellow believers? Are there people you need to forgive? Are there any you need to ask to forgive you? What can you do to restore relationships and restore unity?
Now, I should also note there are times when restoration in a relationship is not necessarily the right path — in situations where you’ve been abused by someone, you can forgive them, you can forget the offense and the hurt, but then you move on. It’s never a good idea to put yourself back in the path of the abuser. Let’s walk in unity, but also be smart about it. Don’t go back to the abuser and try to get unity and restoration. If they are not in the same place you are spiritually, you will just get hurt again. If they are still in the same place where you left them, you are just opening the door for the devil to use that person to hurt you deeper or even worse than before. Please don’t do that. You can walk in unity from a safe distance — more specifically, having forgiven them, you can have unity in your heart, and you never have to open up that line of communication with the abuser again. But please, if abuse is not the issue, and it’s mutual offense or something that can be fixed, it’s best to work toward peace and unity where you can. As long as you’re not putting yourself back in an abusive or toxic situation. Pray for and trust God’s guidance in that specific situation. You could also talk with a pastor or spiritual mentor for advice.