by Steven Chan
In Mark 3:24-25, Jesus made this statement: “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
Jesus prayed for unity among all His disciples in John 17:20-21:
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 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.”
The apostle Paul wrote to the disciples of Christ in the city of Corinth:
“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. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor 1:10-13)
The awful reality is that unity among disciples of Christ is not easily achieved.
- There will be those who, like Diotrephes, who “loves to have preeminence in the church” and reject faithful preachers, cause those who differ from them to be cast out of the church:
“ I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.” (3 John 9-10)
- There will be those who will teach errors and lead disciples astray as was predicted by the apostle Paul in Acts 20:29-30:
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (2 Pet 2:1-2)
- There will also be bible believers who prefer to follow a particular teacher or preacher and thereby create division as highlighted by the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth:
“11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor 1:11-13)
- There are many things that can come between brethren to cause division among brethren.
It could be personal preferences in the way things are to be done.
The Bible says: “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way… 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. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil…Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another…It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak” (Rom 14:13,15-16, 19, 21)
It could be that one may have been wronged by another.
In such instances, our Lord said: “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (Matt 18:15).
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace… Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4:1-3, 31-32)
“Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet 5:5)
Brethren, let’s do our best to keep the unity of brethren in the bond of peace as we seek the unity that our Lord expects of us all. Then we can be strong as a body of Christ and there will be “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). Clearly unity among brethren is not just a matter of attending the same church and having the same name only, it is in the way we do things together – whether we are submissive to Christ, and to one another by doing the things that please God in a harmonious, mutually supportive manner (Eph 4:11-16; 1 Cor 12:12-27). May the Lord help each one of us to contribute to the effective unity of the brethren as we do God’s work together (1 Cor 3:4-11;15:58).