Unity for Christians is not merely a suggestion – it is a necessity. However, unity is not automatic; it is something to work toward in our relationships. Unity is essential for all our relationships – whether it’s our marriage or family, school or work, church or other organization.
One of the best examples of unity is found in the Bible in the book of Acts. The new church that formed after the resurrection of Christ suffered intense persecution. They learned quickly that a “house divided will not stand” and that by working together in love and unity, they helped and protected each other, developed a thriving community of people that had their needs met, and furthered the cause of their community effectively. In Acts 4:33 we are told of these early Christians that “all the believers were one in heart and mind.”
That’s unity, and it’s attainable for us today in our relationships if we are willing to take the steps necessary to walk in unity.
Communicate the Need for Unity
The first step is to communicate with everyone involved that each one has a responsibility to achieve unity. Building strong relationships takes commitment, hard work, and treating others with respect and honor.
Focus on Common Ground
Secondly, focus on what we have in common, not our differences. God has given us different personalities, giftings, backgrounds, races, and preferences. Learn to value and enjoy the differences, not merely tolerate them. God wants unity, not uniformity!
Keep Expectations Realistic
Thirdly, be realistic in your expectations of others. People are imperfect and we must be careful not to have unreal expectations of others. Unreal expectations create opportunities where others fail to meet our standards causing us to become disappointed or offended with them.
The fourth step is to refuse to listen to gossip. If you are not part of the problem or part of the solution then you don’t need to listen to complaints and criticism about others. When someone begins to gossip to you, simply ask them, “Please stop, I don’t need to know this. Have you talked directly to that person?” The best way to stop gossip is to lovingly confront those who are gossiping and insist they stop it.
Resolve Conflicts in a Godly Manner
Lastly, practice God’s method for conflict resolution. In Matthew 18, Jesus told us that we are to go to the one who has hurt us and discuss the problem. During a conflict, it’s tempting to go to a third party rather than to courageously speak the truth in love to the one you are upset with. This is an essential step in developing unity. Avoiding conflict does not resolve disagreements, only in discussing the issues in a healthy manner with those involved.
Reap the Rewards of Unity!
If you practice these steps in your relationships with others, you will begin to walk in greater unity with them and reap the rewards of that unity. In Psalm 133 we are told:
How good and how pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity … for there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.