In closing yesterday, we posed some questions that deserve our attention; we asked, “Why did it [the truth] cause division when Jesus preached it? Was it because He didn't do it right? Or, maybe He failed to have adequate empathy with His hearers in order for the truth not to be offensive to some?” In responding to these questions, we immediately stated that such conclusions are preposterous. However, what about unity? Isn’t that something for which we should strive? Isn’t unity a desirable situation in which to live, work, and worship? We will presently address this line of questions.
First off, unity certainly is a desirable situation in which to live, work and worship. David spoke to this very principle when he wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments.” (Psalm 133.1-2). David spoke the truth when he praised the blessings that flow from circumstances where unity prevails and where strife is non-existent. There are a few folks who thrive on strife and confusion, but most of us like peace and harmony as opposed to turmoil and division. However, that still does not address the questions posed at the outset of this article; shouldn’t we strive for unity?
Allow me to cut to the chase; unity is the result of other actions when it comes to the realm of the spiritual; it is not an end in itself! When men follow common standards, unity is possible. However, as long as men establish their own standards of conduct apart from the wishes of others, or in the case of matters religious, apart from the will of God, any unity that results is a curse and not a blessing! For instance, we might all agree to lie, or steal, or curse – and we might be all perfectly unified in that resolution and in our actions. However, that unity is absolutely taboo! Unity is neither good nor bad apart from the counsel of God. Only when unity is the product of obedience to God does biblical unity exist. Only when we lay aside our own wills and adopt the will of the Father can the wayward vestiges of our stubborn wills become subservient to a higher law. Unity is the result of obeying God; it is not a goal in and of itself.
Consider this illustration: The goal of a determined distance runner is to cross the finish line first. He trains and dreams of winning right up to the big day of the race. The course has been measured, marked and stands ready for the competition. However, our hero decides that the only way he has a chance to win is to ride a bicycle while the others run! Would any right thinking person contend that our foolhardy friend deserves a prize for crossing the finish line first? Certainly not! He can argue until he is blue in the face that he crossed the finish line first, but that is not the issue. His actions contradicted the rules of the race, and he was therefore disqualified!
These same principles apply to unity. It makes no difference if one lives in perfect peace with the entire world unless He “plays” by God’s rules. He can die “without an enemy in the world” and still be lost! Biblical unity is the product of following God, not of making up our own rules as we go! The Love of the Truth knows this well and pursues it!
1. How precious did David say that unity was?
2. Is unity a desirable condition? Do you know some who thrive on chaos?
3. Why is biblical unity a product of obedience to God? Of what avail is it if we are unified in error? Are there people who are unified but wrong before God?
4. When someone dies and his epitaph reads, “He died without an enemy in the world,” what does that say about that person’s devotion to God? Is that a truly a compliment?
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