Church Unity Reflects God’s Unity
Church unity is not a core concern of the church because it’s a trend or fad. Jesus prayed for the church to be one “so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). Unity demonstrates the love of God to the world in a beautiful way. But in the other half of John 17:21, Jesus prays, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you...” In 17:11 he prays, “that they may be one, even as we are one.”
It’s amazing that church unity has a purpose: that the world would believe in Jesus. But it’s no less astounding that church unity also has an origin: the very unity of God. Church unity is from God and for God. Our unity mirrors the life of God – Father, Son, and Spirit in perfect fellowship and harmony. Three divine persons, but one God. This is what the church means when we talk about God as trinity (three in one). We baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). And we pursue generous unity in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Gifts of the God of Unity
1 Corinthians 12 is the most thorough chapter in the Bible on Spiritual Gifts. But Paul brings up the topic in the first place because the church was struggling to maintain unity as they used their gifts. Some were arrogant and thought their gifts were superior. Some were depressed and considered their gifts worthless. We’ll look at these twin problems in depth next week.
For now, I want to point out that Paul and Jesus are completely on the same page about one crucial reality: the unity of the church is grounded on the unity of God. Before Paul can launch into what Spiritual Gifts even are, and before he can challenge the prideful and comfort the discouraged, he points out that many gifts come from one God – Father, Son, and Spirit.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. –1 Corinthians 12:4-7
There are varieties of gifts, services, and activities. But who gives them? The same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God. The Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit. Almost always in the New Testament, the Lord refers to Jesus Christ. And God often refers the Father. Our church is full of people with diverse gifts, strengths, and talents. And yet it is the one God who empowers each one. God the Trinity pours out gifts on us, so that we can reflect back his unity as we use them.
When you see a fellow Christian at church, don’t just notice whatever blessing they bring to the table. Pause and pray a quick prayer of thanks to God.
Thank you Father for them and for their gifts. Help me to love them and appreciate them, so that I will be one with them like the Father and Son are united in love. Help me to reflect you. Amen.