Have you ever noticed how many people-pleasers there are in the world? Have you ever noticed how many people there are who simply try to fix and repair every problem between opposing sides? Have you ever noticed their success rate?
It's virtually impossible for man to create, restore, or for that matter, maintain a constant unity among their fellow men and women.
To exist longterm, unity and peace require one thing: the presence of the Spirit of God. For those who 'know' God, there is always the possibility of peace and unity if they keep their focus on God. Conversely, where there is 'no' God, peace and unity remains elusive. With that being said, our relationship with God should have one priority...our relationship with God.
If every man and every woman individually and fervently seeks out a real and relevant relationship with God, then their relationship with others will reap tremendous benefits. It is when we try to manipulate our relationship with others, manipulation outside of our intimate walk with God, that friendships splinter, marriages end, churches split, and feelings are damaged. God's will is perfect, and staying in the center of that will requires an attention to God that is constant, well-focused, and intensive. We cannot do any greater damage to ourselves or our relationship with others than we do when we elevate them above our personal attention to our own relationship with God.
Churches that strive for corporate unity above spirit-led closeness with God will always be in the pursuit of unity...and it will always outpace their efforts. Marriages that rally all of their attention and focus around the unity and happiness of individual spouses will one day fall prey to the deficit those misplaced priorities brought into the relationship. Friendships, churches, marriages...they are all relationships that suffer hardships when God's Spirit is not the definitive focus.
Just as many pianos, tuned to the same fork by the hands of a master tuner, will all be tuned together as one, so it is with Christians who all relentlessly pursue their own personal walk with Christ. As the closeness and intimacy of their individual walk with Christ deepens and grows, their corporate unity, grounded in their oneness with the Spirit of God, will grow.
In the Body of Christ, unity is not something that is maintained by pleasing everyone. Unity is not maintained by greasing the squeaky wheels of immaturity in Christ as is displayed in the lives of some in the church. Unity is not maintained by spending more or less money. Unity is not maintained through the singing of any particular type of music, nor is it maintained by good preaching. Unity with God's children, and within His church, is maintained by every believer maintaining their own personal walk with Jesus. The fundamentals of unity distinctly lie in the presence of the Spirit of God, alive and well in the mind and hearts of God's children who relentlessly pursue communication, direction, and growth in their relationship with God Almighty.
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
—Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV)
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!