The Unity Of The Church: What Is Its Bond, How To Achieve It
The church is the Body of Christ
The church is the body of Christ and there is no schism in the body (cf. 1 Cor. 12:25). As in the human body, there is diversity in unity and unity in diversity (cf. 1 Cor. 12). The highlight, however, is the drive. If there is unity, it follows that this unity must be expressed in all functions that belong to the church.
Since the government in the church is an institution of Christ (Romans 12: 8; 1 Cor. 12:28; 1 Tim. 5:17; Hebrews 13: 7, 1 Peter 5: 1, 2), this unity must be expressed in leadership.
Christ is the head of the church. He alone is the king. Any infringement of this sovereignty that belongs to Christ is a violation of what is basic and central in the leadership of the church. It follows that everything that is done in the church must adhere to the pattern of a cone that has its apex in Christ.
What is the bond of unity in the Church?
The answer can be given in one word: “true religion.” Religion, as God communicated it to men in the Bible, is their great integral bond. The Holy Scriptures not only show the model from which the Church will be built; they also provide what gives it substance, stability, order, proportion, and unity.
It is “built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ himself being the main pillar, on which the entire building, properly framed, becomes a sacred temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2: 20-21). What does this unit consist of:
1. This unit consists of her having a Head and a body
The head is Jesus Christ, whom the “only God and Father of all” has appointed over his house (Eph. 4: 6). “Holding the head, from which the whole body by the joints and bands that feed and unite with the grace of God” (Col. 2:19).
All true believers are internally united to the Lord and derive their spiritual life and growth from him; and in the same way, Christians, in their associated capacity, must be in professed subjection to him, in his mediating divine authority, as the only Universal Shepherd, and the only Head of government.
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2. The unity of faith
“There is a body” because there is “one faith” (Eph. 4: 4-5). A system of faith or revealed truth, as well as duties, has formed in each age an essential and important part of true religion. By embracing this, the Church distinguishes itself from other societies.
3. A baptism
Baptism is a solemn insignia of the Christian profession, as well as a sign of the grace and privileges of the New Covenant. In accordance with the proper and original design of this ordinance, and the profession that accompanies it, all the baptized become one, and a basis is established for their mutual fellowship in all acts of worship.
4. Unity with regard to discipline
Christ, the head of the Church, “gave help to pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry, for the gathering of the saints, for the edification of the body, until all came in the unity of faith, and knowledge of the Son of God, for a perfect man “(cf. Eph. 4: 11-13; 1 Cor. 12:28).
5. The bond of mutual charity and peace
This is the silk cord that must be thrown over all others, and that completes the Christian union. Therefore, one apostle calls charity or love a perfect bond: “Above all these things put charity on yourself, which is the bond of perfection” (Col. 3:14).
Love must cement the union that faith has formed; and it is by the joint influence of both that Christians “are united to the Lord”, and to each other in him, “with a purpose of heart” (Acts 11:23).
How can the church walk in unity?
To be unified, Christians must focus on the right resources. If you have any encouragement to be united to Christ if there is any consolation from his love if you have communion with the Spirit if you have tenderness and compassion (Philippians 2: 1)
Some might be tempted to think that unity is impossible. They might declare, “We are too different! We have different backgrounds, different styles of worship, and we enjoy different things. We also express ourselves differently. How can we unite in the world?
It appears that Paul is answering this question while reminding the church of the resources they have for unity. Describe four resources that are common ground for each Christian and empowerments for unity. He says: “If you have any encouragement to be united to Christ if there is any comfort from his love if you have fellowship with the Spirit, tenderness, and compassion” (Philippians 2: 1).
The grace to be unified has been given by God, and we must appropriate and access it. Since God has given us all these resources, all these supernatural powers, we should be a unified church.
What are the resources that God has given the church for unity?
The resources that God has left us to be able to maintain the unity of the church are the following:
1. He has provided us with encouragement in Christ
One of the common points we have as believers are the encouragement of our relationship with Christ. The word “encouragement” means reaching out to someone, providing assistance by offering comfort, advice, or exhortation. It means coming to the side to help. “Combine stimulation with pain relief.” Christ used a similar word when referring to the Holy Spirit and his ministry to us.
The Holy Spirit is our counselor, our advocate, our helper (John 15:26). The word represents exactly what we see in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). The Samaritan approaches the injured person, anoints his wounds, places him in a hotel, and pays for his stay. He does whatever it takes to help. Christ does the same with us.
This is one of the reasons we can unify. We can unify ourselves because we have in common the same friend, the same comforter, the same animator. For each of us, Christ comes together to walk through the pains and struggles of life.
2. God has comforted us with the love of Christ
Another common and empowering element for the unity that God has given us is the “comfort of Christ’s love.” Every believer became a recipient of Christ’s love at spiritual birth. We have all become recipients of this great love; we have been comforted in our sins and failures through God’s love for us.
Being filled to the fullness of God means being empowered by God (cf. Eph. 5:18). That is the result of understanding the greatness of the love of Christ. The perfect love of Christ casts out fears and anxieties that keep us from unity. The fear of rejection and the fear of being hurt not only make us struggle but prevent us from trying to re-establish relationships.
3. He left us to the holy spirit
God gave us is the Holy Spirit. When we were saved, God did miraculous work in us through the Holy Spirit. He baptized us into the body of Christ. Now, this baptism occurred at the same time that every Christian was saved. They became part of the body of Christ and were eternally united with Christ and believers.
God did supernatural work through the Holy Spirit that will never be undone. For all eternity we will be the body of Christ, united to Jesus and dependent on one another. It’s a phenomenal concept.
However, although the Holy Spirit made us one in Christ and gave us spiritual gifts that we must use for the edification of others, we must still work to maintain the unity of the church in the Spirit.
The Spirit of God has already made us one and works in us so that we are together and depend on each other; however, we must work to maintain the unity that he forged. The Spirit made us one, and we must work to maintain it.
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4. God has given us tenderness and compassion
Paul says that God has given us “tenderness” and “compassion” to unite us. The word “tenderness” is translated as “intestines” in the KJV. It is a physical word related to the stomach. It means the ability to feel someone’s pain. Paul used this word earlier in Philippians 1: 8. He said that he longed for the Philippians with the same “affections” (or bowels) of Christ. He felt the same pain and longing for the Philippians that Christ felt.
This is very important because when we are in discord we often only feel our own pain. We cannot hear the cries of the other person because we are too upset at being disrespected and disgraced, but the bowels of Christ feel the pain of others. This tenderness, or affection as it can be translated, leads us to compassion.
It leads us to serve the needs of those who hurt us. One author said that “tenderness is the root and compassion is the fruit.” We can unify because Christ gave us his own tenderness and compassion. When Christ looked at the crowds and saw them as sheep without a shepherd, He had compassion on them and went to minister to them (Matthew 9:36).
What attitudes must believers cultivate to be unified?
All believers must cultivate behaviors in order to achieve the union of the church, we will explain them below:
1. They must have the same thoughts
Paul says that believers must be “like-minded.” It literally means “to think the same thing.” In Philippians 2: 5, Paul says that each person should have the same “attitude” or “mind” as Christ. When Christians develop the mind of Christ, it will be easy to unify. The mind of Christ is further clarified in Philippians 2: 7, where it says that Christ took on the very nature of a “servant.”
He did not come to earth to be served, he came to serve. That is the kind of mindset that every believer must develop in order to be unified in the church. In fact, one of the main reasons we fight and argue in the church is because people treat us like servants. We feel disrespected. We feel that others do not respect our position.
However, Christ took on the “very nature” of a servant. It was not simply a king who was serving, it was a king who was a servant. His attitude was consumed with others over himself. That is the mindset that must be developed if we are to practice unity in the church. We should care more for others than for ourselves.
2. Believers should have the same loving attitude
The next attitude that Paul says we must develop in order to unify ourselves is a loving attitude. The kind of love Paul is talking about here is “agape.” He uses the Greek word for the love of God in this text. It is not a selfish love or a love of emotions that are often seen in the world.
“I love you until you hurt me. I love you because you love me. I love you because I feel that way, but when I no longer feel that way, I no longer love you ”. That kind of love will never result in unity. It is like the wind: it is here today and it will be gone tomorrow. You can not trust him.
“I choose to love even when you are not kind. I am committed to loving you no matter how much you hurt me or hurt me. ” Many would call it an irrational love or a crazy love. But it’s really the kind of love found in God. See how the Scriptures describe God’s love:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Because if, when we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having reconciled ourselves. We will be saved for your life! (Romans 5: 8, 10)
3. They must be united in spirit
The word “united” literally means “one soul”; Therefore, being united in spirit means caring for each other as if we were caring for ourselves. This means following the golden rule, loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). When we are united in spirit and love ourselves as ourselves, we will become one united church.
Too often, church members live independently of one another. The church is just to fulfill your desire to worship on Sundays and that’s it. However, to be “united in spirit”, we must live life together. We must get to know each other and be connected to each other.
4. Believers must have the same purpose
When the church unites around something as big as the gospel, then our little differences, of necessity, get in the way. What will unify people with different cultures, different careers, different ages, etc.?
It has to be something bigger than all those things. It is the gospel: the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for the world. Competitive purposes will only be divided. If his purpose is his kingdom and his will be done, then he will fight all who stand in his way.
5. They should practice giving up selfish ambition and vanity.
The phrase “selfish ambition” represents “a person who persistently seeks personal advantage and gain, regardless of the effect on others.” They will use anything to get what they want, including: “flattery, deception, false accusation, controversy, and any other tactic that seems advantageous.”
The word was often used for politicians. It has the connotation of edifying oneself by demolishing others. In politics, the desire to win is so great that they will often do anything to get what they want, even tear down the family, the past, etc. of the other candidates.
“Vain presumption” can be literally translated as “empty glory.” There are some differences between selfish ambition and vain conceit. While selfish ambition pursues personal goals, empty vanity seeks personal glory and acclaim.
It is not surprising that Paul lists selfish ambition and vainglory as attitudes that we must abandon in order to have unity, since these attitudes originally brought disorder in the world. It was Satan’s desire to be like the Most High that brought division in the heavenly places. He had an inflated vision of himself.
Satan then tempted Adam and Eve with the same desire to be like God by causing a division between God and man. Selfish ambition and vainglory are really the roots of all sin. It is the desire to do our will over God’s and has our glory over his.
To achieve the unity of the church we must have the love of Christ, loving with sacrifice and practice.
We must live as the body of Christ, unified in spirit, living as one. Finally, we must have the same purpose as Christ: to spread the gospel.