Pursuing Unity

Be at peaceWhile studying unity, see “Struggling for Unity” for details on that effort, I could not escape the role of individual responsibility for the creation, growth and continual existence of unity. I did not necessarily like (in my flesh) what I found either because it requires significant change on my part both in action and in mindset.

Paul addressed unity a lot within the early church, and the issue remains a constant struggle still today for most (all?) churches. While there are numerous Scriptures throughout the Old and New Testaments touting the importance and even the absolute necessity of unity, one portion in particular strikes me as a sort of mantra for unity. Ephesians 3 provides the motivation for unity (because we’re called, saved & equipped with God’s power), and Ephesians 4 gets into the details of what unity in the body looks like. I encourage you to read all of both chapters now, but at the very least meditate on these key phrases from Ephesians 4 while considering your individual role in creating and maintaining unity.

“Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowances for each others faults because of your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace.”

“One body… one Spirit… on glorious future… one Lord… one faith… one baptism… one God and Father…”

“… hold to the truth in love…”

“Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

“…throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life…”

“So put away all falsehood and ‘tell your neighbor the truth’ because we belong to each other.”

“…be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

With those verses in mind, consider the following statements as you contemplate your own role in the unity of the body. These statements simply reflect my personal agenda for positively impacting the unity of my family and my church.

For the sake of building unity in the groups of which I am a part, I commit to…

  1. Preferring others by not insisting and arguing for my own way, wants & desires.
  2. Allowing others to make mistakes without receiving criticism from me and to instead offer encouragement and sometimes instruction.
  3. Refusing to assume because I know that assumptions (always? often? usually?) lead to foolish behavior.
  4. Avoid operating on misinformation while at the same time realizing that some things are simply none of my business.
  5. Treating others with respect even when I don’t agree with them.
  6. Focusing on facts over feelings.
  7. Realizing there is often more than one right way to accomplish a goal.
  8. Accepting people where they are and encouraging them to always be growing.
  9. Making sure I’m always growing spiritually since no one is responsible for my growth but me.
  10. Refusing to give up on unity by continually praying for and working toward peace with others regardless of their efforts.

Consider taking time to write your own plan for building, promoting and protecting unity. Ephesians 3 and 4 were used as guides for my own statements, but really the entire book of Ephesians provides tremendous help toward playing an active role in making sure unity thrives in your relationships. Other Scripture driving home the point include 1 Peter 3:8-9, Psalm 34 and Psalm 133. I encourage you to make unity a priority in your life and to “do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

DISCUSSION: What are you doing regularly to build and protect unity?

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19 Replies to “Pursuing Unity”

  1. I'm really making a strong effort to be a really good encourager. I'm encouraging the person to be all God wants them to be but also encouraging positive statements toward others.
    My recent post Agree!!!!

  2. I think I pursue unity when I choose not to reply harshly or in kind. I also try to show people respect even if I think they don't deserve it sometimes. I also try to avoiding making judgments about people. I fight against doing this especially those times I am tempted to do it without much information to go on. I also look for opportunities to encourage like cycleguy.

  3. One barrier I see to unity, at least in my church, is just the natural cliques that arise because of different geography or life stages or workplaces or hobbies. People tend to associate with the same certain group, and the church ends up feeling like a collection of groups instead of one solid unit. So perhaps a way to promote unity there would be to intentionally look for ways to combine the groups?
    My recent post How to Avoid the Fate of the Sluggard

    1. Interesting point, and definitely true in my church as well. You hit on the solution quite well though. We must deliberately work to promote unity by not operating solely in cliques. Doesn't mean we don't have our "go to" people for accountability, stress relief, etc., but we must be sure to go outside of those groups to help others know and experience unity as well. Having "all church" events helps with this too, so the deliberateness really needs to happen at every level.

  4. It's so easy to start sliding down the slope of disharmony! I find that I start doing this in my mind first when I start criticizing others for how they are doing things. Recently I came to a conclusion that before the start of our planning meetings I need to personally pray for everyone who will be taking part. Starting that way changes my attitude and helps me to be a force for unity instead of division.
    My recent post When Cease-fire Doesn’t Mean Stop Shooting! Video Update

    1. It sure is, Caleb. And you hit on a huge reason for the growth of disharmony – being critical of others. We have to realize that there is more than one way to accomplish a goal and that we often don't know the whole picture with regard to why leaders are doing something. Whenever I am critical of someone (even critical of myself), I almost immediately feel a huge check to stop going in that direction. Our habits, like prayer and worship and study – can help keep is from getting critical too. Great point!

  5. Awesome post!
    Focusing on facts and not emotions and trying to view them through the eyes of God (they are valued and loved) helps me handle situations better than I usually would. And when my emotions flare, I try to immediately say "I'm sorry" to restore the relationship and not let hurt feelings build.

    1. Thanks, TC. Getting God's perspective is always the right approach. And we definitely need to make sure to keep short accounts. Getting at problems as soon as they occur and when they are small is the best way to prevent disunity.

  6. Whether it's a friend or loved one I try to learn about the other person and openly share about myself. I've found this to be a key element when it comes to creating and maintaining unity with another person. Great post!

  7. To build unity, I focus on offering grace and not making assumptions. I used to get myself in trouble when I would allow my emotions to get in the way. I would look at a person's behavior in the context of myself, and I took some things personally I shouldn't have. It took me studying the different personality types to gain a much clearer picture of the major differences in people's behavior. It's usually not personal. We all just have different ways of relating to the world around us.
    My recent post How the Stories We Tell Ourselves Shape Our Lives

    1. Emotions are a tricky deal. We need them as gauges to take our own temperature and make adjustments. However, we can't let them be in control of our lives. Developing broad shoulders is so important, as you note. And, like you, understanding personality styles has helped me tremendously in developing broad shoulders in that I realize that most of the time, what others do that I could take offense to is not personal. In fact, it's more about the other person than it is me. That realization helps so much in our pursuit of unity.

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