Though highly esteemed by God, religious unity as prescribed by the Scriptures seems to be an abomination in the sight of many. According to Jesus, unity among those who follow Him is powerful—it will engender faith (John 17:21) and demonstrate Jesus’ divine mission and God’s love for the world (John 17:23).
Religious unity is not something needing a human committee to devise. God has already created and revealed its blueprint. In Ephesians 4:1-13, the essential ingredients of unity are identified and explained. They are:
- A common spirit. The cultivation of such virtues as humility, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, and diligence is essential. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (vv. 1-3).
- A common faith. There is no “agreeing to disagree” on seven distinct matters of faith. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (vv. 4-6).
- A common goal. Building up the saints—your spiritual brothers and sisters—is the practical and worthy goal for unity. Helping as many go to heaven as you possible can is the epitome of being Christ-like. “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive and gave gifts to men.’ (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (vv. 7-13).
Neither congregational nor universal religious unity is an accident waiting to happen. Each is a divine blessing which comes when God’s people have a common spirit, a common faith, and a common goal. We must ever endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.