Behold how good and pleasant it is when our brothers and sisters dwell in unity! (Psalm 133: 1)
Like a parent who is troubled about their children’s quarrels, God is troubled when her children do not get along and fail to promote peace and unity in the church. Our God is great and wants us all to work for unity and peace while appreciating and loving the wonderful diversity of his creation.
I am proud of our church for having a rainbow flag up in front of our building to show we don’t just say in our church vision statement that we are “reaching out with nurturing love to all…” but we practice hospitality and inclusivity as well.
Since I have Scottish heritage and my clan comes from the region of Alloway, Scotland, I was truly joyful when I read that in May of 2015, our ancestral Church of Scotland joined the PCUSA in allowing the ordination of people who are gay. The outgoing Moderator Very Rev John Chalmers said: "We cannot go on suffering the pain of internal attacks which are designed to undermine the work or the place of others. It's time to play for the team.” He added: "It is time to stop calling each other names, time to shun the idea that we should define ourselves by our differences and instead define ourselves by what we hold in common - our baptism into Christ, our dependence on God's grace, our will to serve the poor and so on."
According to BBC news, “The vote followed a church-wide debate and consultations with all 45 presbyteries, which voted 31 to 14 in favor of change. Supporters said it was time for the church to be inclusive and recognize the "mixed economy" of modern Scotland.”
Baptist minister, Reverend Daryl Evans wrote a blog for a website called “What Christians Want to Know” and he listed many scripture passages on “unity.” Reverend Evans said: “Throughout the centuries the church has had a difficult time in agreeing with each other. There are obviously numerous denominations and even many differences even within denominations. There are many reasons for this dynamic. Sometimes church traditions and differing biblical interpretations get in the way of unity. But what does the Bible say about unity? There are many biblical passages that explain what Christian unity should be.”
The following list is a sampling of the many scriptures on “unity:”
1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”
John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 17:23 “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly One, so the world may know that you sent me and loved them as you loved me.”
Acts 4:32 “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to them was their own, but they had everything in common”.
Philippians 2:1-3 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves”.
Colossians 3:14 “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
1 John 4:12 “…. if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
Romans 12:10 “Love one another with affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
Ephesians 4:3 “...be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
1 Corinthians 12:12 “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
1 Corinthians 12:26 “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all One in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 4:11-13 “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith…”
Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”
1 Corinthians 1:10 “I appeal to you, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”
God’s word shows the importance of unity. Today, you may be holding a grudge or ill feelings towards another. My prayer for you is that you give that up to God. Show the love and forgiveness that comes from the Holy Spirit and be at peace with all. Amen