Have you watched the news recently? The increased frequency of natural disasters is insane!
April of this year marked a record number of tornadoes across the U.S. and unfortunately far too many deaths. Crazy happenings in an increasingly unstable world!
The natural instability of our climate seems to correspond with the political and spiritual instability of our world. We do indeed live in tumultuous times!
Some folks would say that the unity of the Church is a nice, but unattainable ideal for us to maybe try to pursue as we are able. I say that Christian unity is a matter of life and death—especially on two particular fronts.
1. For those who do not know the saving grace of God. One of the primary missions of the church is to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). In recent years this has amounted to getting people to make a decision for Christ. The two can be painfully different. A disciple is someone who is a learner of Christ and connected to a local body of believers. It’s within this context that true transformation takes place.
What is it that draws unbelievers to local churches? Love!
Jesus Himself said, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 (NASB)
The converse is also true. When people don’t see us loving one another, they will quickly assume that our faith is shallow or even fake. They’ll be pushed away from Christ instead of being drawn toward Him.
All of the most well-designed outreach programs in the world will amount to very little if we do not love one another. Christian unity is a matter of life and death for the unsaved.
2. Unity is a matter of survival. I believe that we are slowly entering a time of increased Christian unity to be accompanied by a last days’ harvest of souls. But not all will be saved and the ideal of the universal unity of mankind cannot be achieved without compromising our faith. As a result, there is an F5 tornado brewing and the Church of Jesus Christ will be right in its cross hairs. The day is coming when Christians will need one another simply to survive the onslaught.
In times of intense persecution denominational lines mean little, but if we do not begin to build cross-denominational relationships now, we’ll be ill prepared for the coming storms.
As important as these two arenas may be, there is a third reason to pursue unity that should deeply stir our hearts—our love for our God. He desires that His people would be one even as He is one (John 17:22). If we truly love Him, we’ll love one another.
Regardless of our primary motivation, every one of us is called to preserve the unity of His Spirit in the bond of peace!