…but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. – Philippians 2:3
Messages of unity have recently been delivered from the highest places in our country. As well-meaning as this direction may be, without a foundation on Jesus these words of unity ring hollow. But in a local church, with Jesus as the center, unity and love are visible to the world as hallmarks of our faith. Love and unity shore us up against the pressures of darkness that surround us and would see us fail.
As Jesus was nearing the cross he told his disciples, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you…By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Unity for the Christian starts with a shared acknowledgement of God’s love for us as demonstrated in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We reciprocate this love when we obey Jesus’ teaching on the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
The love that creates unity in the church is not a love based in emotion but one of commitment and selflessness. Jesus modelled this love on the cross. This kind of love requires discipline and work, but the reward is a deep bond that will endure into eternity.
Unity in the body of Christ reminds me of the Roman phalanx pictured above. The arrangement of shields, held side-by-side, high and low, is a potent illustration of the power of unity. Each additional soldier adds more value to the group than he could ever possess as an individual. But the church is not held together by the “glories of Rome”; rather we are bonded by faith in and love for Jesus and each other.
I pray, when the unbelieving world looks at the Body of Christ today, they see a group of people that is greater in God than the sum of its parts.