“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”(Psalm 133:1, ESV)
As Christians we know that there will be no final and eternal peace until Jesus comes and reigns forever. But we share the good news of the gospel because we know that there is still the need for peace in the tumultuous souls of the lost. Inner peace comes when there is peace with God because our sin debt has been paid by Jesus upon the cross of Calvary.
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”(Colossians 1:19–20, ESV)
But there is another peace that we need to strive for as well. It is a peace and unity that emerges from our heart based upon the gospel of peace that unifies us as brothers and sisters in Christ and demonstrates the love of Christ to a watching world. In Jesus’ day the disunity that existed was mainly the distinction between Jew and Gentile. The gospel overcame that division so that Christ has created one Church, unified in the Savior, baptised in Christ, celebrating one communion, prepared to enter into one Kingdom.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”(Ephesians 2:14–16, ESV)
When two women in the church of Philippi didn’t get along, Paul wrote, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” (Philippians 4:2, ESV). There is no mention of the color of their skin, by the way. It doesn’t say who was at fault. The basis of their unity is given: “agree in the Lord.”
When addressing the need for unity in his letter to the church that was in Rome, Paul stated that the unity they demonstrated would act as one clear voice for the message and glory of Christ: “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. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5–7, ESV)
But what if you have been wronged by someone who claims to be a Christian? What if you have suffered unjustly for no reason of your own? Paul also addressed this in Romans 12, right smack in the middle of a section on not taking revenge and not seeking to avenge yourself, but leaving it to God. It says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18, ESV)
The early church existed in the midst of a wicked world. Unity was common in most churches because they were led, not by emotion, politics, the flesh, or human reason and philosophy. Instead, where unity reigned it was because the Lord led his people through his Word and his people lived according to that revelation. We can never overcome the evil of this world by echoing that evil back in our response. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21, ESV)
Frustration of injustice that leads to sinful anger, sinful speech, justification for sins committed, and promotion of anarchy, and chaos does not reflect the spirit of Christ. May we seek to address sin and the need for change within the church and within our culture and society by the means that God has given us–godly living, reasoned speech, loving service, gospel proclamation, person to person confrontation of sin committed, and a willingness to overlook some sins for the sake of love and unity.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”(1 John 3:16–18, ESV)