As far as I can determine the word “unity” appears only three times in the Authorized King James Version of the Scriptures. However, it is an extremely important word and its concept is taught repeatedly on the pages of holy writ.
Unity is said to be both “good” and “pleasant.” David wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). Unity can only be accomplished when we all “walk by the same rule,” and when we “mind the same thing” (Phil. 3:16). Far too many want to walk by their own rule. Yet God has told us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9). Jeremiah reminds us, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23). And because of that, we have God's Word as “a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Thus, God has supplied us with the “rule” in His Word that we are to “walk by” in order for there to be unity among believers.
Not only must we walk by the same rule in order to have unity, we are also exhorted “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no division among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10).
It doesn't take a man with an eagle's eye to see that the religious world of our day is failing miserably in this requirement for unity. We have hundreds of different “churches” teaching a variety of conflicting doctrines, in order to “draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). They use “good words and fair speeches” to “deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17-18). They use “every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14). They “wrest the Scriptures unto their own destruction” (II Pet. 3:16). Peter said that “many shall follow their pernicious (evil) ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (II Pet. 2:2). And as long as men insist upon “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” their religion will be “in vain,” and unity will not be obtained (Matt. 15:8-9).
We must constantly work at achieving unity. It doesn't come without effort and it doesn't come naturally. Paul wrote that we are to be “endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Characteristics that are required of one who is endeavouring to keep this unity of the Spirit are walking worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, lowliness, longsuffering, forbearance, and love (Eph. 4:1-2). Notice that this “unity” is “of the Spirit;” it is the Spirit's unity. We cannot establish our own unity; actually, we cannot establish unity at all; it has already been established by the Spirit; we are to endeavour to keep it. The Spirit's unity consists of “one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are 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 your all” (Eph. 4:4-6).
In His great prayer before the cross, Jesus prayed for unity of all believers. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on Me through their word; That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me” (John 17:20-21). Is it any wonder today that atheism is growing? Jesus said the unity of all believers would cause the world to believe that He had been sent by God. So what is all of the disunity, all of the refusal to grant Jesus his dying request, all of the religious confusion that exists in our world, the refusal for all to walk by the same rule and speak the same thing, shouting to the world?
Due to man's stubbornness, rebellion, and pride, it is obvious that the world as a whole will never achieve unity in religion. But this does not include His people. We, as children of God (I John 3:1-2) must “endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Are you doing what you can to promote and maintain this unity among brethren that is said to be both “good” and “pleasant”?
Paul M. Wilmoth