Recently I have been thinking a lot about unity and why it is so important. In seeking out greater understanding I looked up unity in the dictionary and this is what Marriam-Webster’s definition says;
- a: the quality or state of not being multiple :oneness
- a: a condition of harmony :accord; b: continuity without deviation or change (as in purpose or action);
- a: the quality or state of being made one :unification
As I looked at the definitions I realized this was a picture of the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Over that past week this has been something I have been talking to God about continuously and I believe he has been clarifying something for me. This isn’t something that is new but something that seems to be going deeper into my spirit and soul.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible has been John 17:20-23. In this chapter of John, Jesus is praying His High Priestly prayer for His disciples, and this particular verse has always captivated me.
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”
The fact that Jesus would pray that we would be one with each other as He is one with the Father, so that we could be one in them isn’t something we have to wait for this is something that is possible today. But what does it mean and how do we achieve unity with our Savior and Creator?
Recently I was at our church for a worship service praying. At times I will ask God to give me some scripture that he wants me to have greater understanding of. This particular time I opened my Bible to Nehemiah 10. As I looked at this chapter I began to wonder why God would lead me to this particular chapter. As I read the chapter, verses 28-30 began to stand out to me and over the past week I have been gaining understanding that helps me to see the importance of being unified with Jesus.
Now the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God, their wives, their sons and their daughters, all those who had knowledge and understanding, are joining with their kinsmen, their nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God’s law, which was given through Moses, God’s servant, and to keep and to observe all the commandments of God our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes; and that we will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons.
The part that really began to speak to me was the people were signing a document that would separate them from everyone else not following the law, and commit their lives to God’s law, but this was seen as a curse. Why was this a curse?
It was a curse because God knew the people would not able to live their lives to the standards that the law, given by Moses, imposed on them. They would not be able to uphold the oath and therefore it would be a curse. As I read this over and over I was beginning to get a greater picture of the importance of unity with Christ. I was even beginning to see something in the scripture that says that we would not give our daughters to the people of the land or take their daughters for our sons. Let me try to explain what I have learned…
I believe, as a Christian one of the things that keeps us from walking in unity with Jesus is the fact we live our lives according to the law instead of in the mercy and grace He purchased through His sacrifice on the cross. Paul tries to explain this to us in Galatians 3. He explains that our salvation did not come through the law but through a spiritual revelation of Christ and our faith in Him.
Galatians 3:13 – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us…
Let me give an example of what I have been discovering…
If we were told that the only way to find salvation was to no longer speak a slanderous word against our neighbor, we would all try to watch what we say and not speak negative things about the people around us. In theory this is good, but it is being done through our own fleshly abilities. The problem with doing this through our flesh is we all have boundaries and values we set for ourselves. Most of the time these boundaries and values are set by our interpretation of the law. When people around us have a different interpretation their boundaries and values may be different and will ultimately violate ours. If our values and boundaries are violated we seek out others with similar values and boundaries so that we find comfort and understanding. Eventually we find ourselves in a place where we sin because we all want to be heard and understood, so we begin to gossip and speak negatively of our neighbor.
When Jesus became the curse of the law it changed things. Instead of living according to the law, as followers of Christ we are free of it. God’s mercy and grace has covered us and through our repentance we have Salvation. But does this mean we can now speak slanderously of others? Absolutely not!
When we are in unity with Jesus it is no longer about speaking slanderously, now it is about only speaking words of edification, encouragement, love and kindness. As we live in unity with God there is no longer a fear of not upholding the law, as His ways are greater than the law. It is no longer about fulfilling our fleshly desires to be understood or be justified. When we are in unity with Jesus there is a point where we allow our flesh to die. We come to an understanding that the ways of this world and the desires of our flesh all come to an end when we physically die. But the ways of God’s kingdom are eternal and we can live here on earth as it is in heaven today.
Jesus gave many examples of how to live in unity with the Father. He would say that he would only do what He saw the Father do and only speak what He heard the father speak. The only way He could do this was through His Spirit, and this is the same Spirit that He has placed in us.
So Jesus prayed that we would be in unity with Him and the father, so that we could be His light to the world. He was praying that we would begin to see beyond our flesh so that we could be one in spirit with Him and the Father. He calls us to a new standard of how we love and encourage each other, but we cannot do that unless we are in unity with Him.
The other part of the oath in Nehemiah was they would not give their daughters and sons to people who were not part of them. The reason for this is because they would not be equally yoked and there would be issues that prevented them from being unified in the oath they took to follow the law.
2 Corinthians 6:14 – Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Paul warns us not to be unequally yoked with nonbelievers because of the impact it will have on our unity with each other and with Christ Jesus. Jesus has called us to be examples so that will lead others into the same unity with Him. Unfortunately this cannot be attained in the flesh and if we are yoking ourselves to anything or anyone that is in opposition to this we cannot walk in unity with Him.
As a father and husband God has called me to be in unity with Him, my wife, my children, and the body of Christ. It is through my intimate relationship with Jesus that I do the things that He wants me to do in my family and relationships He has placed me in my life. Our relationship with Jesus is black and white, we are either in unity with Him or we are living for our self. We either live in the blessing he has given us through our salvation or we live in the curse of the law. If I am walking in opposition to God there is a direct impact on my marriage and my family. If we all live for our own desires it will eventually tear us apart.
I see God’s blessing through walking in unity with Him on my own life. He gives me perspective and understanding that goes beyond my flesh in my marriage, which allows my wife and I to continue to strive for unity with Jesus at the center. My wife and I both see the blessings that have come as a result of keeping Christ at the center of our marriage and family. As we are in unity with Jesus our children have seen the fruit produced through their parents, and that has drawn them into a relationship with their Lord and Savior. Ultimately how my children walk in unity with Jesus will have an impact on their future spouses and children.
As we each continue to seek out unity in Christ there is a common bond that draws us all into unity with each other. This only comes from our own individual choice to walk in unity with Jesus and do what we see the Father do and speak what we hear the Father speak.
John 5:19 – Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
I could continue to write about this topic for days, as it is so rich with much more of the mystery of Jesus to be discovered. The point is if we want unity in our relationships at church, school, work, with our kids, and in our marriage it needs to be established around our unity in Christ Jesus. The only true unity in this world resides in the Holy Trinity, and we have been invited to be part of it.
Jesus prayed we would be part of it!