Unity Doesn't Come From Talking About Unity

by Oct 7, 2014

Once every week, there’s some free entertainment outside my office window. All the students at the local hairdressers’ academy assemble in the park across the street to do team-building exercises. Picture forty self-conscious hipsters in black clothes, hair, and fingernails doing trust-falls, lifting each other over rope barriers, and playing telephone.

Is that what it takes to bring a bunch of individualistic people together?

Maybe so in the world. But in the church, we have a different strategy. Paul said, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).

When we have the same goal — glorifying the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ — then we’ll have one voice. We’ll be united together in our mission to glorify God. Unity doesn’t come from talking about unity, or singing about unity, or doing unity-building exercises. Unity is a by-product of seeking God’s glory.

It’s like being a police officer or a firefighter. I have two brothers-in-law who are cops, and lots of friends who are firefighters. They all tell me that they’ve never experienced the kind of unity and community they have with their fellow officers or firefighters anywhere else. Not even in the church. Why is that?

Because every cop has the same goal: stopping bad people from doing bad things. And every firefighter has the same goal: saving lives. They put their lives on the line every day to pursue that common goal. And the the natural by-product that results is an incredible unity they have with each other. They’re a band of brothers! !

They never had to go to classes at police academy about building unity. They never had to do trust-falls at the firefighters academy. Can you imagine that? “I’ll get you, big guy! … Don’t worry! … Just fall into my arms!” No, unity just comes naturally when you’re pursuing the same thing.

It comes naturally when you’re passionate about the same thing. Last week as I was driving home from work, there was a tiny car in front of me with five big guys squeezed inside. We’re talking a little Toyota Tercel filled with linebackers. That was entertaining enough all by itself, but then suddenly all five guys raised their hands in the air, and starting pumping their fists in unison to the same beat. Ten fists in the air and out the windows, with heads bobbing up and down. This wasn’t a slow, head-banger fist pumping. This was a fast, best-song-I’ve-ever-heard-in-my-life kind of fist pumping.

I couldn’t help myself; I had to know what song these guys were listening to that made them all so incredibly happy. I pulled up next to them, and it was Taylor Swift on the radio! If Taylor Swift can bring a bunch of linebackers together, shouldn’t the Holy Spirit be able to bring us together to glorify God? When we’re all passionate about God’s glory, we will be unified!

“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).