A plea for unity

March 8th, 2018

Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133:1

I spoke with someone not long ago about our ever changing world and the challenge that is set before us as believers to keep up with the times. It often has been asked, What would be different in the world if you were in charge? For some the desire would be to eliminate crime, hatred, and prejudice. For others it might be the removal of pain and sickness. Still others might desire a world of peace and forgiveness.

In a world where wrong seems right and right seems wrong, unity among believers will help us keep our perspective. Our hearts will be in tune with God, as will our goals, in the desire that the entire world may know God. The psalmist knew of that when he wrote, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1 KJV). There was indeed a unity between Jesus and God, and we know that Jesus never lost sight of his purpose; that is, to die that we might live. Jesus was bold in his instruction to us to follow him, because to follow Jesus means more than traveling with him; it means being like Jesus. Our purpose as well is to die to self that we might live for Jesus. This is evident in the church of Acts, and is our model for how the church should conduct itself. Once we are clear on what unity means, all the other goals of the church become clear.

Luke, the physician and the writer of the book of Acts, gives us a glimpse of the New Testament church immediately following Pentecost. It was indeed a church of unity, love, and compassion. Luke makes it clear that the early church made unity a priority. They did not just talk about their love for one another, their love was evident according to verse 32, “The believers were one in heart and mind” and “shared everything they had” (NIV).

As we think back to our original question, What would I change if I were in charge of the world? I would like to see that degree of unity demonstrated among the church today. To be like-minded, having the same love, and being of one accord—such a commitment to unity within the body of Christ would only increase the impact of the church on the world, and perhaps create a newfound interest in the church.

One only has to read the headlines of the newspaper or turn on the television to see that the world is in search of something to believe in and somewhere to belong. People hunger for love and acceptance, and the church is called to be a haven of hope for those who are lost. The context from which our passage is found today reflects this very principle. Peter tells the crowd in Acts 2 that forgiveness through Jesus Christ is available, that the promise is for them, “for you and your children.” Our text tells us that more than three thousand people received Christ as a result (Acts 2:41). Out of this gift of the Holy Spirit came a unity that was evident to all, to the extent that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47 NIV).

Beyond the impact such unity would have on the world, we must realize the impact it would have on the church itself. Luke tells us that no one lacked anything because no one claimed ownership of any possessions— everything was shared and therefore everyone’s needs were met. Never do we look more like Christ than when we are giving. The church would benefit from accountability, consistency, and stability, all as a result of unity.

When unity is our goal, we find that our priorities will be correct as well; we will love the right things, do the right things, think the right thoughts, and dwell on things above. How often in the world do we lose sight of our priorities and emphasize the wrong things in life? With unity we find not only purpose and priorities but also a passion to please God. We will love a lost world, we will love one another, and we will love God with fervency. When unity becomes the driving force in our lives, the church will once again be all that God intended.

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