Mankind has been suffering from a plague that has destroyed more societies and lives than one can count. That plague is division. It has ravaged mankind since the great fall found in Genesis 3. Whether it is a civil war in a country or the fall out from a divorce in a family, we all have been touched in some way by division.
The Church (universal) is no exception to this damaging plague. Many congregations in the Lord’s Church have split for a various reasons. This congregation is no exception. Some years ago this congregation went through a division of which I believe has not recovered from to this day.
Again, this problem of division is not a modern problem. The early Church two thousand years ago had to deal with it. Paul addressed the idea of unity in a number of his epistles. One example was to the Church in Corinth. (1 Corinthians 1:10-17) That congregation was beginning to divide. Paul pleaded with them “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you.”
This problem of division continued after the Apostles were gone. The Apostolic fathers had to deal with it. Ignatius wrote about it in his letter to Smyrna. But his solution to the problem of division was not Scriptural. His idea was to listen to the Bishop as one who would listen to Christ.
Even the first Ecumenical council that took place at Nicaea in 325 AD was brought together because of division in the Church. Constantine brought three hundred and eight leaders together in order to bring unity.
Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, had the right solution to the problem of division. That solution can be found in Ephesians 4:1-3. Now, we must remember that the Ephesian Church was a mixture of Jews and Gentiles. So you could imagine that division could creep into that congregation very easily. Two very different peoples with two very different cultures is a sure mixture for division.
The Lord’s solution is to first remember our calling. We should ask ourselves, what is my mission a child of God? Second is we must have a completely humble attitude. Thirdly we must be gentle. It is so easy to get angry and begin to raise our voices to press our point. The next is to be patient and bear with one another. Unity is sometimes hard and it takes time to iron things out. The council at Nicaea spent two months together before coming up with their creed. Last of all, we must work hard at it. Paul says to make “every effort.”
Can unity be achieved? Sure. With the right attitude and a lot of hard work this can be accomplished. Unity according to His Word pleases God. The benefits are without measure. The Psalmist writes: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.” (Psalms 132:1-3)