This comes from Jesus’ pray for unity with his disciples:
“Holy Father protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”
The enemy that Jesus seeks protection from is very real and active. The evil one lives and breathes to see the kingdom of God fall. Every chance he gets he will sow seeds of hatred, envy, selfish ambition and confusion among God’s people hoping it will grow into catastrophic division.
What kind of unity can there be when we are divided over petty issues? When we gossip behind each other’s back? When we hold grudges and never seek reconciliation? The phrase “a kingdom divided amongst itself cannot stand” comes from the mouth of Jesus himself.
There are times when God himself will cause division among his own people, but it’s only when his children act blasphemously towards him. The early Israelites suffered from division when God “scattered them among the nations” for their wicked behavior. Their example makes me wonder if the church is as separated as it is today by God’s hand because of the amount of evil that we condone.
God is certainly not opposed to unity; he’s opposed to the rise of evil, especially among those who are responsible for preserving his reputation—which is us!
Our Father is proud when we make him look good by adhering to unfiltered doctrines of his Word, by relying on him more than we rely on ourselves and by giving to others when it seems like we have nothing left to give. When we live by the faith and righteousness he’s given us, there is no need to suffer the discipline of his separating.
The church has lost sight of what it means to be one. Everyone wants to do their own thing. It’s ridiculous, and frankly heartbreaking, that churches go to such extreme lengths to make a name for themselves. They want to be the best in town and more popular than any other ministry. Even in the sermons, they promote their own church as much as they do the gospel.
I find it a little ironic that church leaders can be stubbornly loyal to their particular denomination while their congregants visit a variety of churches. Christians are placing less of a priority on denominational affiliation.
Of course, we’re not going to agree on everything, but we do share core beliefs. There are essential doctrines and non-essential doctrines, and if we can agree on all that is essential we have a very good chance of reaching unity. We won’t have any idea what we have in common unless someone starts the conversation.
Whenever there is unity, we are much stronger. Iron sharpens iron. Love inspires love. And the weak are made strong. The kingdom of God moves forward as one impenetrable unit.
It’s like the herd of buffalo in the Savannah. When the lions prowl, you know what the herd does? They collect themselves and stand shoulder to shoulder. The bigger and stronger buffalo stand in front facing the lions while the babies are shielded. If the lion wants to take a chance it will have to go through the line.
What chance do we have against the enemy when we are only interested in saving and protecting ourselves? The devil is picking off stand alone churches and lone Christians like stray gazelle. Thousands of churches split or die out every year. Those who are just starting to take their faith seriously slip back into their old habits.
We must become like the buffalo. Stand together. Protect the weak.