Vol.XVII No.XII Pg.4
February 1981

The Glue For Unity

Robert F. Turner

Our Lord's prayer for "oneness" of believers (Jn. 17:20-f) emphasizes the desirability of unity, and its effect ("that the world may believe that thou didst send me"). This unity is defined as based upon and growing out of a "oneness" with God; the result of teaching that had been accepted and followed. "And I made known unto them thy name, and will make it known; that the love wherewith thou lovest me may be in them, and I in them."

Men have long recognized the need for unity, but they have not always accepted Christ's concept — of its essence, nor of the way to attain it. Catholicism, viewing the body of "believers" as a body politic, has used organizational bonds to hold its many parts together. Protestant denominationalism, particularly in its beginning, formulated "Creeds" or lists of "I Believes" as bonds of fellowship. The "Party Spirit" flourished, and peer pressures or unwritten laws from "our" church have been used to hold various sectarians together. And in more recent times, social needs have supplanted spiritual matters. By ignoring God's word, and stressing "unity in diversity," others have accepted "union" in place of unity. The cults are often bound by loyalty to a human founder rather than to Christ.

Our diverse society, with its emphasis on individuality, may despair of being "joined together in the same mind and judgment" (1 Cor. 1:10), for in one sense, this is impossible. We judge subjectively, out of our knowledge, experience and background; and none of us are exactly alike. But all saints can and should "have a mind" to serve Jesus Christ, and their judgments and opinions should spring from and be governed by that single goal.

1 Pet. 3:8 tells us to be of one mind, then describes that "mind." It is sympathetic, brother loving, compassionate, humble, etc. Paul wrote to the Philippians: "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" — who humbled himself, became a 'servant' for our sake, and was obedient even unto death. It was on this basis that he urged them to unity, saying, "Being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through faction or through vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others" (2: 2-8). The welding together of differing individuals, through their common desire to think like, obey like, be like their Lord, is that which commands the attention of the world and causes them to believe.

When brethren differ in their understanding of the will of God, the fact that they differ is not destructive of unity as much as the selfish "mind" which may exist. If both desire truth, and recognize the same standard of truth, they can study together — drawing closer to one another as they draw closer to Christ. One need not condone or participate in error during this process. But when we seek to force "unity" by organization, Creed, Party lines, or carnal pressures, we may expect only more of the same. Nothing, but nothing, but nothing will glue brethren together like the genuine love of God.