Galatians 3:26-28 NIV 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
I vividly remember my baptism at Hope Evangelical Free Church near College Station. I remember how cold it was after I emerged from the pool and how happy I felt. My baptism was a public announcement of what had already taken place on the inside. All believers are united in baptism and in Christ.
Paul, in his epistles, called Christians to harmony and unity. We are all one in Christ regardless of ethnicity, gender, nationality, or race. I look forward to the day when all believers throughout the ages will praise Christ before His throne as every knee bows and every tongue confesses that He is Savior and Lord. Every era of history and every part of the world will be represented in the praise that flows from the angels and the believers.
How can we apply the teaching of unity to our daily lives?
Prayer promotes unity and overcomes bitterness and division. During World War II, Hitler commanded all religious groups to unite so that he could control them. Among the Brethren assemblies, half complied, and half refused. Those who went along with the order had a much easier time. Those who did not faced harsh persecution. In almost every family of those who resisted, someone died in a concentration camp.
When the war was over, feelings of bitterness ran deep between the groups and there was much tension. Finally, they decided that the situation had to be healed. Leaders from each group met at a quiet retreat. For several days, each person spent time in prayer, examining his own heart in the light of Christ’s commands. Then they came together. Francis Schaeffer, who told of the incident, asked a friend who was there, “What did you do then?” “We were just one,” he replied. As they confessed their hostility and bitterness to God and yielded to His control, the Holy Spirit created a spirit of unity among them. Love filled their hearts and dissolved their hatred.
When love prevails among believers, especially in times of strong disagreement, it presents to the world an indisputable mark of a true follower of Jesus Christ. 1
I realize that as Christians we have more in common with each other than what separates us. We have the same Savior, Lord, Baptism, and Spirit. There is no place for racism or sexism among Christ followers. Furthermore, we should not favor the powerful and rich in the church over the poor.
James 2:1-4 1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Philip Melanchthon, a friend, and colleague of Luther’s, wrote about the core and the periphery. We as Christians need to agree on the essential gospel of Jesus, but we can graciously and humbly disagree over matters that are not essential or not clearly outlined in Scripture. For example, we must agree in Jesus’ virgin birth and resurrection. On the other hand, knowledgeable Christians disagree over how to interpret the prophecies in Revelation.
We work together with other Christians to further the Gospel and care for people. Christian churches are not competing businesses. We are co-laborers in God’s field. We all sow and reap a harvest for the Lord and all are part of the family of God.
Father, we thank you for sending Your son, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. May we strive for unity. May we find practical ways to love others. Amen.
1 Our Daily Bread, October 4, 1992.