Fight for Unity
There are three great Bible themes which are related to unity: Truth, Unity, and Liberty. Among the three, Truth is most important. “Buy truth, and do not sell it” (Proverbs 23:23). Truth is what sets us free, not unity nor liberty (John 8:32). If we have to sacrifice unity or liberty for the sake of Truth, then we must.
Liberty is also a key biblical theme. Liberty among Gentiles relative to Jewish Christians is the theme of Romans 14-15: “Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God” (Romans 14:3-6). We need to allow one another the liberty to respond to God within the confines of God’s written word.
However, unity is also very important to God. Jesus prayed for unity (John 17:20-21) and He died to make Gentiles and Jews one body – the church of Christ (Ephesians 2:13-18). We also have a responsibility to fight for unity.
Notice Ephesians 4:3 – “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The word “eager” translates a word which means “make haste, give diligence, or make ever effort.” The word in Greek is a participle which means it takes place at the same time as the main verb. In this case, the main verb (verse 1) is “to walk.” So, Paul tells the Ephesian Christians: “I urge you to walk… making haste to maintain the unity of the Spirit.”
Some foreign translates bring out the communal nature of this command. A Romanian, Spanish, and a French translation each say, “Force yourselves to keep the unity.”
That means that there is Truth around which we need to have unity and we need to force ourselves to keep unity relative to that Truth. We need to allow one another some liberty in our daily lives if the Truth has not spoken on the matter. Unity is not always easy. It requires humility, love, and tolerance. And work.
But unity is worth it.