A Misplaced Priority
While unity is not the ultimate goal of a church, it reflects our commitment to the One who is ultimate. A lack of unity shows that personal preferences have taken priority over the Lord and His mission. When Paul challenged the Philippians to be one, he essentially said, “If you have any joy at all in being a Christian, any mercy at all in your hearts, then think the same way and focus on one goal” (2:1-2). A lack of unity reveals that, for some, personal kingdoms have taken precedence and priority over His.
A Mistaken Enemy
A church fighting is as heartbreaking and appalling as an army turning and shooting its own people. Surely the Enemy, the Devil who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour, is pleased and present in such circumstances. Instead of uniting to advance God’s kingdom, a church that fights within herself wastes countless amounts of energy and time devouring her members.
Christians throughout history have been recognized as a group who love each other well. Aristides, who wrote scornfully of the early Christians, admitted that they loved each other deeply. He said, “If these Christians hear that any one of their number is in distress for the sake of Christ’s name, they all render aid in his necessity.” For a local church to forsake unity is to forsake the great history we claim. Thus, a drift in unity reveals a deeper drift — a drift away from our Lord and the mission He has given His Church.
Unity is kept when we view others as better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3), and the only way we are empowered to do so is if our minds and hearts are continually reminded of how Christ served us (2:5-8). Church leaders must join the apostle Paul in greatly valuing the unity of a local body of believers and continually encouraging people to live the unity that Christ has already graciously given His people.