Let me read one of Aesop’s Greek fables; In the forest, there lived four oxen. They were very good friends and always went together to graze in the fields. However, every time they went, a hungry lion tried to attack them. The lion longed for their meat. But they withstood his attack by fighting him as a team. They attacked him with their horns and the lion fled to another forest. One day, the four oxen fought among themselves. They started going to the forest separately.
When the lion returned, he saw that the group was divided. He planned to take advantage of this situation. Finding the first ox grazing in the fields alone, he crept from behind and ate him up. The next day, he attacked the second ox and killed it too. This way he killed the third and the fourth ox too. Had the four oxen stayed together, they wouldn’t have lost their lives. Moral Lesson: "United we live, divided we will be killed.” From where came the popular phrase, "United we stand, divided we fall". This phrase has been used in mottos, from nations and states to songs. You may be familiar with a popular song "United We Stand" written by Tony Hiller and Peter Simmons and was first recorded in 1970 by The Brotherhood of Man.
I was very familiar with this phrase growing up in
. We were
told how our early fathers, the freedom fighters stood united and faced the
then mighty India British Empire. It was our unity that
brought us independence. The basic concept however is that unless people are
united, it is easy to destroy them. Is there a biblical basis for this concept
of unity? What is the power of Unity? What breaks unity? If unity is imperative
for any nation, society and church’s survival how then can we achieve such
unity? Let’s begin with the biblical base of unity.
I. THE BIBLICAL BASIS OF UNITY:
Repeatedly, throughout the Bible we see the concept of unity and the call for unity. We see this concept of unity played out in the beginning of creation itself. When God created the world He just called things to come into existence all by Himself by His shear power and command. When all he said was let there be light, there was light. But when it came to creating the master piece of all of his creation He did not do it independently. He consulted with the other two persons in the Godhead namely the Son and the Holy Spirit.. He said, “Let us make man in our Image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Gen1:26
The creation account of man tells us two things. Firstly, God was, is and always lives in unity and His desire for us is that we too would live in unity. Secondly, it is not to one man or woman God gave the responsibility to rule or to take care of the world, but to all mankind. It is a collective responsibility. Each of us has a role to play in the welfare of the world. The survival of the planet earth depends on our unity and collaborative effort. How do we define unity? Unity is the state or quality of being one; oneness, mutual agreement, and harmony. Let’s talk about the power of unity.
II. THE POWER OF UNITY:
We can learn great lessons of unity and its power simply by observing the nature. For example a single snow flake that looks beautiful and innocent. If it remains on its own it can easily fly away or quickly melt away. On it’s own it does no harm and poses no threat to any one does it? But when it unites with other snow flakes, they gain more strength and power. Those of us who live in
England know the power of the accumulation of “snow flakes” They
have the power to work havoc and bring a whole administration to halt.
If that is the power of the united snow flakes can you imagine the power generated when people are united? Even God takes note of this power. Remember the first ever human construction of a tower in Gen 11th Chapter? This is a classical example of the power of unity. At some point in time after the flood the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward they found a plain in
and settled there. They said
to each other, “Come let us” make bricks… Come
let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the
heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of
the whole earth.” In these couple of verses we hear the words “Come let
us” twice; where did they get that concept of unity? There is power in the words such as “Let Us”
more than you realize than words like, “Let me” or “I can or I will” Shinar
Their united effort caught God’s attention, so he took a tour from heaven to see this impressive human construction. The Lord knew the power of unity so He said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”
Unfortunately the unity that was displayed in Genesis 11 in the long run was not good for the people who were building a tower and most certainly it was not in line with God’s global purposes. Therefore He attacked their unity (of wrong reasons) by confusing a key ingredient that fosters unity “common language.” Not only does God know the power of unity but also the intent of the devil. Satan works overtime to destroy the unity among believers in the body of Christ. He creates division through gossip and misunderstanding. He breaks down the communication among us. Instead of fighting the devil we end up fighting each other.
Wait a minute! Let’s not be too quick to blame the devil for the disunity in the Church. Could our own actions are lack of them cause disunity in any way. What do you think are the unity breakers? In Philippians 2:1-3, we read what breaks the unity among the believers. “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
Let’s take this scripture apart for a moment. Paul explains to the believers what contributes to Christian unity in the church as well as what breaks that unity. Firstly, unity in the church flows from individuals being united with Christ.
This personal union is a basic reality of salvation. Secondly, to be in Christ is to be saved. Thirdly, from our close relationship with Christ the savior flows: love, comfort, encouragement, tenderness and compassion. When we fail to operate in those qualities we will be moving towards disunity.
Fourthly, selfish ambition and conceit are the mortal enemies of unity and harmony in the Church. In Gal 5:20 “selfish ambition” is listed among the acts of the sinful nature. Fifthly, the only thing that protects unity is humility which is the source of Christian unity.
According to Paul a humble person consider others better than himself. It does not mean that he sees everyone else is more superior or talented, but through Christian love he sees others as worthy of respect and preferential treatment. In my years of ministry I have noticed how some thriving ministers fell, ministries closed and churches split because of pride and selfishness. Sadly whenever that happens it hurts ever body even more so the name of Jesus Christ is blasphemed. Therefore let’s beware of the unity breakers.
We read that the early believers were often together in prayer. Just as humility, prayer is one of the basics of unity. When we as Gods children get to know our Heavenly Father better, if we grow more and more aware that the One for whom nothing, absolutely nothing is too difficult waits to hear what the Evangelical Church of Atlantic unitedly wants to ask of Him and believe Him for. I believe we will see God do great things in and through this Church. Friends, I believe if we collectively take a stand in prayer against the destruction the enemy is working in our society, if we put our differences aside and fervently call on God for intervention we will see God’s work and deliverance in unprecedented ways in our days. How can we foster such unity that the Bible describes? The scripture gives us several principles in achieving that unity.
III. BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR UNITY:
During his ministry on earth Jesus had to put up with a bunch of selfish and power mongering disciples. He knew very well that discrepancies and disagreements would erupt among his disciples once he had departed from the earth so he earnestly prayed for them. In John 17:17, Jesus prayed that the father would sanctify the disciples by the truth before he would make them one. The first principle in achieving Biblical unity is to have the mind of Christ. As Christ prayed to the father that his disciples would be brought to complete unity (John 17:23), let’s also cry out to God to bring our church to complete unity.
Secondly, we recognize that God is the master builder and we all are hired workers. Paul recognized that he and the apostles were servants of Christ and each were assigned specific tasks to perform. Similarly we too must humbly recognize that we are hired workers by God to work in his vineyard. We are his servants called out to do his work. When we are faithful in serving the master in our assigned tasks one day God will reward us according to our labor.
Thirdly we recognize and respect one another. Finally, Coordination, Communication and Cohesion are other essentials principles in achieving and maintaining biblical unity. Unity is far more important to the life of the Church than the individual strengths of its leaders. The Lord has called all of us to be a part of this awesome work of building His Kingdom.
The growth of our Church depends on all of us praying and working together in unity. We desperately need unity at all cost. Therefore as far as it lies in us let’s work towards building and maintaining unity. When we are committed to just do that, God has promised to pour down his blessings on all of us. In closing let me urge you as the Apostle Paul urged the believers in
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Eph 4:1-6 Amen