In the great commission, Jesus speaks of the need to teach new disciples “to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20) One of those teachings concerns unity. You have heard it said, “There is no ‘I’ in teamwork.” For any local church family to be truly successful for the cause of Christ, there has to be an awareness of their need for unity. Publilius Syrus wrote in the 1st century B.C., “Where there is unity there is always victory.” Robert Usrey approached this same idea from the opposite direction, saying, “Unless the [the church] really believe in the possibility and the necessity for unity, they will be diverted from their goal and will be defeated.” When it comes to the church, the importance of “we” cannot be overstated.
I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. John 17:20-21
As the cross drew closer, Jesus spent some personal time with the twelve apostles. During that time, we read of how Jesus prayed for them (the apostles) and for those who would hear the message of hope after Jesus had risen from the grave and ascended to heaven. Why would Jesus pray for unity? In Matthew 12:25 Jesus says, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” The church in Corinth was about six years old and already faced with problems; one of them being disunity. Some were saying, “’I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’” (1st Corinthians 1:12) Paul would then ask a critical question, “Is Christ divided?” (1st Corinthians 1:13) Of course, the answer is no!
Another reason for unity is found in the prayer given by Jesus. Through unity established through the message they would proclaim, the world would have a better chance believing in Jesus and His redemptive work. This is why, at least in part, Paul would exhort the church in Corinth saying, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1st Corinthians 1:10) The effectiveness of the church then, and now, was and is linked to unity.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1
Although there is strength in numbers, there is even greater strength in unity. Why? Because if the numbers are not unified, they will begin to fall apart, destroying both themselves and their influence. May we commit ourselves to unity by always remembering the importance of “WE.”