On Unity

Acts 2

The day of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover. This very image perfectly displays for us the image of Christ’s Church. Consider the pride, which was the basis of the segregation of nations at the tower of Babel. Because of their pride, God divided the nations and gave each nation a different tongue, that they would no longer be able to communicate. That they might no longer conspire, considering that they might in some way be able to reach heaven by their own efforts. This pride which so readily comes to us has only the possible end of division. Where there is pride, there can never be true unity. Consider the denominational differences which litter our current generation. Each denomination founded by one who considered their way the “right way” and everyone else’s way wrong, completely neglecting Paul’s teaching that “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:3-6). Through the pride of these founders, further and further divisions occurred, to the point of literally tens of thousands of divisions now separating each of us from one another. Pride can only lead to division, whereas only through true humility can unity ever be achieved. As each of the believers humbly gave themselves over to the Holy Spirit, as they each submitted, they were then given to speak in different tongues, that all who were present were able to clearly hear the Gospel delivered in their own language.

So often in our own lives, we encounter this very thing. This pride which deafens the ears and blinds the eyes of the soul. We approach every conversation, every debate, with the goal of victory rather than progress. We start wars for the purpose of winning battles. But the victor in any war never truly wins, they merely lose the least. No one won World War II, one side merely suffered fewer casualties than the other. Likewise, our pride can never “win” unity. Evangelistically, no one ever came to Christ because they lost an argument, but rather they were humbled by the humility of believers. Consider here how the Church is described, “They continued steadfast in the apostles’ doctrine; in fellowship; in breaking of bread; and in prayers…with one accord…breaking bread from home to home, they ate with gladness, praising God for having favor with all people.” They gathered together in fellowship with one another, as a family. They learned the traditions of the apostles, they didn’t argue over which one was right and which one wasn’t, they were unified. They shared the Eucharist together and joined in the liturgical prayers with one another, of one accord, with one purpose. That they sold their possession and shared everything shows their lack of pride, their humility. They weren’t concerned with who had the nicer house or the nicer car, who had which “top selling Bible translation;” there was no room for any of that, anything which would cause division between them was nonexistent. They affirmed that no one really owns anything, that every good and perfect gift is from above, and is for the benefit of all mankind. It says that they “had favor with all people.” Think about that for a moment. Rather than allowing self-righteousness and pride to stand between them and others, in their humility, they displayed the compassion of Christ to all people. And the result, the Scripture tells us, “The Lord added to the Church daily those who were being saved.”

See, we tend to think that if we argue, we will be able to “save” people on our own. We can “win one for the kingdom.” But, it’s not through intellectual assent that one comes to faith in Christ, thus arguing intellectually with someone is of no profit. When we argue to “prove we’re right,” we prove nothing more than that we will never accept someone who believes that we are wrong. The more we trumpet our honor and trustworthiness, the quicker the world counts it’s spoons. And the first time it finds a flaw in us, because we’ve been so proud of our flawlessness, it immediately devastates our witness. When we cast judgment and condemnation on those who live differently than us, then we open ourselves to receive that same judgment when we fall, which we shall. However, if we focus on our own sinfulness then we are much less likely to see the sins of others. It is only through the lens of our own self-righteousness that we are able to see the faults of others; if we focus on our own sinfulness, however, we will never have time to see the sins of others. And the most amazing thing about that truth is that: when we don’t focus on the faults of others, we have more time to love them. And that love is the love that Jesus tells us will be how the world will know that we are truly His followers.

Christ is in our midst.

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