20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)
1) We find unity when we know what we are united around.
When push comes to shove, the central truths of Christianity center on truths around the person and work of Christ.
The identity of Jesus, key passage Philippians 2:6-11.
He is Yahweh (“the LORD”) incarnate. Being equal with God by nature, He became human to come and save humanity. The key here is that Jesus is not merely a human, though not less than either. He is the same Lord that appeared to Abraham in Genesis (John 8:56-58). Again, much more could be said, elaborating on His role as the Messiah and so on. But the point is that comprehending the identity of Jesus is central to trusting Him and having faith in what He has done for us.
The death and resurrection of Jesus, key passage 1 Corinthians 15.
The historicity and the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus are among the primary truths of the gospel. If you are wondering where to invest more time understanding the message of the gospel, this a topic we would encourage you to do so! 1 Corinthians 15 makes it abundantly clear that everything hinges on these two events. If this did not actually happen, then our faith is in vain!
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17)
So it is, our faith is not mere principles or ideologies, it is based on a real person and real events. All the meaning of what we believe is locked in the historical reality of the death and resurrection of Christ.
The necessity of Jesus, key passage Acts 4:12
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Peter preaching, Acts 4:12)
Believing in Jesus is not considered optional or extra credit. It is necessary and essential for salvation. In other words, there are not many ways to obtain eternal life with God, there is only one way (John 14:6).
If you are up to the challenge, try putting together a list of truths that bind us at the table of the common faith. Be sure to have appropriate passages associated with each one!
2) We find unity when we know what we are united for.
15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:15-18)
One of the best ways to cultivate unity is to get on mission together. It builds camaraderie like no other.
3) We find unity when we pick the important battles to engage in and avoid the less essential ones.
While we are supposed to engage the world, we are to be selective on which battles we choose to fight. Scripture offers some exhortation on this.
It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. (Proverbs 20:3)
23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:23-26)
“In the essentials—unity; in the non-essentials—liberty; in all things—love” — Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430 AD)
- Will this battle cause disunity among fellow brothers and sisters in the faith?
- Is it necessary?
- Is the outcome worth the fight?
- Or will it lead to regrets?
4) We find unity when we remember that we are family.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. (1 Corinthians 1:10)