All this year the church I work for and attend has been praying for 5 different, specific areas of growth, and among them is unity. In these past months, I’ve learned that praying for unity is sometimes a tricky thing. For example, if you pray for unity, you may begin to discover areas where there has been disunity–areas you didn’t even know existed. But that’s a good thing–a really good thing actually, since you can’t address that which you don’t even realize is an issue needing to be addressed. Honestly, I think I personally thought we were probably praying for greater unity. Praying for greater unity somehow makes you believe you don’t have to really consider areas where you may not have unity.
So during the course of this year, I have been taking note of certain aspects of what God says about unity.
Enter the Tower of Babel.
On Wednesday of this week, my boss/pastor shared a short message about the Tower of Babel with the students of Keokuk Christian Academy, the Christian school which is housed in our church. As I took a few minutes to go back and reread the account from Genesis 11, I couldn’t help but take note a statement I guess had somehow slipped my attention before.
It’s from verse 6:
“The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”
Those people had unity. It was just misguided unity. They were united for a wrong goal and they were united without God’s blessing. Their goal was to make a name for themselves and to not be scattered all over the world. (Verse 4) Goal #1 accomplished. Goal #2, Uh, not so much.
Apparently they were doing a pretty good job of building that tower, because God took note of these people who had united, and that there was little stopping them. Well, little, except for God.
So the Lord confused their language, scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building their city. End of unity.
I was reminded from these verses about how strong the power of unity is even when it is misguided, and I was inspired by even how much more powerful unity is when Christ is at the center and the glorification of His name is the purpose.
In John 17, John shares with us a prayer Jesus prayed for His disciples and for us, the modern day believer. Both speak about unity. At the heart of Jesus’ own prayers for us is unity–that we would be one as He and God are One, so that the world might believe in Jesus, and that God sent Him to earth for us.
Because that is something worth being united about.
So how do we grow in unity? I believe by following the words and examples of Jesus and His disciples.
We pray for unity. (John17)
We stay kingdom focused. (John 17)
We choose unity. (I Peter 3:8)
We live out compassion and humility. (I Peter 3:8)
We don’t repay evil with evil or insult with insult. (I Peter 3:9)
We honor one another above ourselves. (Romans 12:10)
We are devoted to one another and share with God’s people who are in need. (Romans 12:10,13)
As we become truly unified, we continue to pray to grow in unity, so that those who are missing out on unity with Christ can know Him as Lord being reconciled to Him.