Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

   Imagine yourself living in a world where everyone agreed with everyone else. Everywhere you went people were living in harmony. No one stood out as a rebellious, independent thinker. Husbands and wives were in total agreement about everything. Children never bickered or fought but, on the contrary, loved one another and submitted to everything their parents had to say. Families were never torn apart by differing opinions, ideas or standards.

   Imagine all the nations of the world co-existing in perfect peace and harmony because they were in agreement. Every time you turned on the news or read a newspaper the only noteworthy topics were about the weather report, road conditions and sales at the mall.

   Finally, consider what it would be like to attend a church where everyone agreed with every word the pastor said and where everyone was in total agreement with everyone else. In fact, imagine a world where there were no longer different Christian denominations because everyone was careful to be in agreement.

   By now you could very reasonably be saying to yourself, “There never could be a world such as this because this is conformity, and besides, I might not want to agree with everybody all the time!” You’re right. God has given every human being born into this world freedom of choice, freedom to think critically and freedom to make personal decisions. There have never been two people who agreed on every single thing.

   This brings us to the question, “What does God’s Word mean when it speaks of unity or being in one accord?”  Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Notice that this verse is limited to God’s people. This means that they already have a common ground, or foundation, which is the Lord God. In other words, they are united because of their belief in the Lord.

   In the New Testament book of Acts we read that there were about 120 people gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:14). (Being in one accord means unanimously or with one mind). Acts 2:1 states, And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” 

   We can only try to imagine this large number of people gathered together in unanimous agreement. But agreement about whom or what? After all, this group consisted of men and women of diverse ages, backgrounds, personalities, personal opinions and tastes.

   The answer to this question is simple—they were all of one mind concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They may not have necessarily been in agreement on the personal level, but when it came to the great truth of who Jesus was, why He came, His death, burial and resurrection, they were all in one accord. They all believed the scriptures that foretold His coming. They were all in agreement that they were sinners in need of a Savior and that the only way to the Father was through Jesus Christ. And they were all in one accord waiting for the promise of the Holy Ghost. In other words, they were one in the faith.

   On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost was given to these who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, they became one in the spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” So we see, then, that being in one accord and one mind can only take place when we are of one spirit.   Ephesians 4:3-6 admonishes, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is 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 you all.”  As for those who received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, their lives were forever changed. Acts 4:32 tells us, “The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” 

   Today many within the church system are promoting unity like never before. While this may sound all well and good on the surface, every believer must ask him or herself some important questions. First, what is the spirit behind it? Secondly, what or who is promoting this unity and for what purpose? In other words, who stands to benefit or ultimately be in control? Most importantly, which scriptures must be compromised or disregarded in order to accomplish such unity? The bottom line is any time unity is promoted for the sake of unity itself, truth will be sacrificed.

   Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (1 Corinthians 6:14-15). Any time people decide, for the sake of unity, to agree with others, they are merely conforming outwardly. You can be sure that inwardly they are of the same disposition and opinion as before.

   Sometimes people jump on the “unity bandwagon” because it serves their purpose. It may give them a sense that they are a “somebody” or the outward appearance of a very “spiritual, broadminded Christian.” The problem is, and always has been, that any unity that does not originate from the Holy Spirit is a counterfeit and a sham. It will always end in an unholy alliance with the spirit of the world, or Satan. We all know the signs of the times we are living in—how the world is fast becoming one gigantic “global community” that will ultimately be ruled by one ruler, with one forced religion; a one-world bank and economic system; a one-world police force and military; a one-world court; a one-world health organization; a global education system; and a one-world food controller. Everything may appear, at least for a time, to be in unity and harmony, but we who understand the Word of God know the end result.

   Christians need to understand that true unity in the true church is not something that has to be worked at or worked up! Nothing could be further from the truth! Furthermore, that is the essence of hypocrisy. As Christians, our unity is in the spirit, not in the flesh. If we are born again of the Spirit of God, then we are already one in the spirit. It doesn’t matter if Mary doesn’t like Martha’s emphasis or that John doesn’t care for Peter’s impulsiveness. Unity doesn’t depend upon the entire congregation agreeing with the pastor.  After all, he may be scripturally off. What then? Should everyone keep quiet and not make waves just to keep up the façade of “unity”?

   True unity isn’t defined by outward conformity, but by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. In other words, unity in the spirit is based on truth, and it is the truth that makes us free (John 8:32). Therefore, we can logically conclude that any so-called “unity” that is based upon anything other than the absolute truth of the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not only built upon a lie, but also results in bondage.

   This freedom in the spirit grants us the power to submit to one another in love. The indwelling Spirit grants us the power to allow the life of Jesus to be lived through us. It is the indwelling Spirit who produces the fruit of the Spirit as recorded in Galatians 5:22-23. We don’t have to “work it up” in order to “conform” for the purpose of appearing to be in “unity” with others.

   It is important to meditate on the verses following the list of the Fruit of the Spirit. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:24-26). This is the secret of living in one accord and in harmony with others. We must die to self, our lusts and our pride if we are to have true unity with other believers in the spirit. This is the secret of the success of the early church. The Apostle Paul put it this way: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).