Unity! Are we up to it?

by Rolf-Dieter Brown

What is happening to us Christians? In every Bible we find the words of Jesus: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Why is it so difficult for this man's followers to follow His command? Obviously, it is not easy to coexist in love and unity. Fortunately, the Bible gives us important counsel to walk the difficult path to unity.

Why unity?

God commanded us Christians to live in unity because He knew we needed Him. The Christian church was not invented by sociologists, nor did it arise as a result of the unification of people of the same religion who, having common interests, formed a union. Moreover, this community was conceived by the Creator Himself, Who knows the needs of His creatures, since He Himself created these needs for us as well. God even wants us to be connected and dependent on one another (1 Cor. 12:21). Therefore, interdependence among Christians is not a sign of immaturity, but something normal. It is an expression of readiness for collective service (Eph. 4:11, 12; Acts 18:26).

Hard to overcome problems

In every Christian community, no matter how small, we encounter shortcomings in terms of cohesion. What makes life difficult in our church? To what extent have we ourselves contributed to these difficulties? And are we doing anything to overcome them? These are the issues we can and must engage in as "peacemakers" (Matt. 5: 9).

We must first consider the following: Among Christian communities, the question of human relations and the healing of broken or diseased relationships is often raised. Unity in Christianity is not achieved through common organizational resolutions of the churches or on the basis of mutually signed documents, no matter how fruitful the attempts at theological agreement and organizational coordination.

Jesus had other ideas: “to be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me ”(John 17:21). Relationships between people based on love are the basic structure of Christian unity. As the Acts of the Apostles says, "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32). This is not a romantic idealization of a bygone age, but a concrete experience of unity: hospitality (Acts 2:46), renunciation of personal property (Acts 4:34), solidarity with the persecuted (Romans 16: 4), collecting donations for each other (2 Cor. 8: 3) and thus the important process of getting to know and coming together between different social strata, cultures and ethnic traditions (Acts 6).

Who is responsible for unity?

Who should solve the problems of divided Christianity? Church leaders and experts? But the problems of this divided Christianity are not only of a theological and confessional nature; unfortunately, they are rooted more deeply: the real difficulty is not in differences in teachings or worship, but in the approach to such differences. The question is: How do the followers of Jesus, who cannot agree on their understandings, act? And don't these differences turn into dividing trenches? If we accept these dividing trenches as a pathetic semblance of independence, if we wait for these contradictions to be resolved by the experts, then are we not looking at the current situation from its light side? The real reason for the division among Christians must always be sought in the selfishness of man and in his separation from God, therefore the real reason lies in each of us.

Paul's diagnosis

Paul characterized schism and hostility as "wor