Jesus prayed for His church. He came to redeem for Himself a church from this world. In what we call His high priestly prayer He prayed: “…Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are,” John 17:11b. With the state of many churches today one might be given occasion to doubt the possibility of such a reality that the church could be one…and act like it.

     The truth is that it’s hard to be one with people, isn’t it? As the number of people grows in any given church that oneness often becomes more and more difficult to see if you’re paying attention. We’re all so very different. How can we ever hope to truly be one as Jesus prayed? For God so loved the world that He did not send a committee, a preacher once jested. What if I told you that all we need to do is recognize that we are already one? To know how we were made one, I feel, is a key to wanting to prove it in our lives. For many of us it begins there. Christians must understand what their unity is based upon if they’re to find it honored amongst themselves. When Jesus prayed this prayer for unity it was not in vain; His prayers are always answered.

     So what is our unity based on? Is it on the songs that we sing? Is it on our confessions? Is it in our common missionary goals? or social efforts? While it can be seen in these things, dear friends, these things are but the fruit of our unity if we’re unified in Christ. Our unity is not primarily doctrinal, it’s the Spirit. If we’re born again then Jesus’ prayers were answered in us.

     Sound doctrine and common passion eschews out from the church as the result of a unified instruction from God. It is the result of the salvific or ontological reality of salvation that leads us to love and contend for truth, Jude 3. We believe that, “There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” Ephesians 4:4-5. This is sound doctrine. The Apostles Creed contains the line, “We believe in the holy catholic church” near its end. What we’re saying when we confess this is that there’s a unity we profess that is based on the Holy Spirit within us. It is a unity that unites believers all over the world in every culture or era. Because God is our teacher (Hebrews 8:11; cf. Jeremiah 31:34) we come to believe the same truths from Scripture. A godly touch leaves a doctrinal fingerprint. Please don’t hear me saying that sound doctrine does not matter. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is that true unity is more than sound doctrine.

     Focus on that spiritual unity in your prayers and dealings with others, Romans 12:10. It’s as hard for others with you as it is for you with them, I assure you! Let doctrine and the weightier matters of love, mercy and faithfulness guide you to a freedom in Christ. God uses that. Because of the unity Paul found in Christ he could say, “If your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died,” Romans 14:15. If God values my brother and calls him His child, how should I honor that child? Christ died to bring unity to the church. What have we done for it?  

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