Oneness with Jesus produces unity with each other
Christ is relevant to unity. Unity is not something you can achieve by mustering up everything you have within you. Of course, unity implies two or more coming together. Above all, the most effective way to produce lasting unity is to unify with Christ first. Christ is relevant to unity when we all come together around Him. Ultimate unity arrives when we all grow in Christlikeness.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.Ephesian 4:1–3 ESV
Are you eager to maintain unity?
What does it mean to be eager? We anticipate with delight a good many things for example; Chocolate, bicycling, camping, time with our children, and the list may go on and on. But how many of us can really say that at the top of our list is an eagerness to keep the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”? Some are too busy creating disunity within the body of Christ, therefore the thought of maintaining unity is lost to the almost good intention which slightly emerged somewhere between “I ought to…” and “I should…” and “maybe next time.” The sad truth is that being “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is not part of our daily agenda.
The admonition however is clear; we are to be eager to keep the peace that has been committed to us by the Holy Spirit of God. Unity serves as the benchmark of our divine kinship. To be one with Christ is to be one with all Christ represents, and with all who are one with Him. This is how Christ is relevant to unity.
Unity is essential.
The issue of unity is so essential and implicit to Jesus that wherever unity is found, there you will also find Christ in the midst of it. Christ is essentially relevant to unity. Union with Christ, as evidenced by the traits of such a connection (the Epistle of 1 John delimits these traits), becomes the foundation for all fellowship within the body of Christ and is the litmus test for anyone claiming to be Christ’s follower.
This notion of being unified in the Spirit, with all that Christ represents, is completely fulfilled in possessing the love of Christ within our hearts and expressing the love of Christ to others. See 1 Corinthians 13:1–3 and 1 John 4:7–21.
Oneness with Jesus compels us to connect to each other.
What compels someone to possess an earnest desire to be a steward charged with maintaining the health and welfare of unity? To be the keeper of the light that has been lit by the Holy Spirit? Certainly, it is the very Spirit that lives within us that moves us into a concerted oneness with each other?
When we share the family connection of being united in Christ, unity and union demonstrate our identity. Unity is what God is achieving through oneness within the hearts of His children, while the union is the resulting condition being established between His children within His Spirit. Although similar, unity and union are various dimensions of the relational matrix. Unity is caused by oneness with Christ compelling the condition of the union to exist between His children.
Oneness with Jesus prompts a sharing of our unified faith with each other.
The issue now is how do we enter into oneness? The answer is that we must have a unifying identity (being in Christ), leading to an unbreakable intimacy (being of Christ) motivating a uniform industry (being compelled by Christ).
The prepositional phrase “of the Spirit” certifies that this unity has originated from God’s Holy Spirit. Unity is given by the redemptive process of grace, bestowed by the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ. Again, Christ is essentially relevant to unity. It is Jesus who is working to bring all His children into the unity of the faith.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Ephesian 4:11–13 NIV
Peace results from unity.
Unity possesses a very unique and distinct signature. Peace is the bond offering proof of who we are in Christ and to whom we belong. Likewise, unified peace asserts that we are children of God birthed by the Bride of Christ – the Church.
Peace is the evidence of those who are dependent on Christ to provide the ability to cope with the problems, pain, and perplexities of living. Therefore, in the midst of conflict, we can experience the absence of fear, dread, and impending doom as we rest in the presence of His safety, tranquility, and contentment. A continuous relationship with Jesus Christ overflows with a peace that comes from entrusting every struggle to Him. There is strength in knowing that while all around us is in flux and failure, Jesus provides spiritual stability. We experience peace in the presence of finding Christ relevant to our situation even when we cannot be in control.
You will keep in perfect peaceIsaiah 26:3–4 NLT
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the LORD always,
for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.
At peace with one another
We find Christ relevant to unity when we are desperately dependent on Him. Our relationship with each other is to draw directly from the well of Christ and to drink inter-personally of the water of everlasting life. As we are at peace with God through Christ Jesus, we are to be with each other—“in the bond (or ties) of peace.” Can you see how our identity in Christ establishes intimacy with Christ? Therefore we are compelled to the industry of sharing this intimacy with each other. As a result, being reconciled with God results in bonding with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can be unified because we have found Christ relevant. Being at peace with Him is what people of faith have in common. We have found Christ relevant to unity.
- Based on my behavior, do I value keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?
- Does my life demonstrate oneness with Jesus and unity with my Christian siblings?
- Do I possess the bond of peace with Christ and in my relationships with others?
Excerpts from Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis.