Psalm 133 reveals what God has reserved for His people when they “live together in unity”. Life. Goodness. Full blessing. Who in their right mind would not desire such a life? This is naturally what we long for the most: for our lives to be drenched in God’s goodness and anointing. In this psalm we also find the key to the fullness of God’s blessing. Unity. Yet, in our individualistic culture, we tend to seek personal blessings in our personal relationship with God and thus bypass the blessing God desires to give us through unity.
When Jesus prays for His future followers (including us!) in John 17, His prayer reveals the primary need of Jesus’ followers: unity. This is perhaps the greatest challenge we face as Christians – our relationships with other Christians. Since Jesus prayed for this, instead of praying for provision, for instance, this is obviously a key for flourishing Christianity.
Jesus prays for deep unity with Him who Himself is in Abba Father. I imagine we have all seen a sufficient degree of discord even on the level of local church cell groups to know that Jesus’ prayer for unity has not had its full answer. I think it is time for us to question why.
Jesus Himself prayed this prayer – and we know that the Father answers the prayers of His Son – yet it is obvious that we are not walking in the unity Jesus prayed for. Surely the hindrance to this prayer answer could not be us? Or could it? Could it be that we Christians are sometimes unwittingly hindering the Holy Spirit? I think the sorry answer to this question is indeed found in our own hearts.
As unity is the fruit of humility; so discord is the fruit of pride. When our hearts are humble, we become open to others as people – even if we disagree with some of their views. I have sometimes heard it said “we can’t pray together because we disagree”. This, for me, is one of the saddest sentences a Christian can say. Instead of coming to the Spirit of truth together and seeking God in humility, we prefer to cut ourselves off from each other. What would happen to our own lives, our local churches, our nations or even our world if we repented from our spiritual pride and realised our need for each other as unique revelations of the Father? What would happen if we learned to pray together again?
As Christians we form the body of Christ. What a privilege to be connected to Him in the deepest unity possible. Yet here’s the catch: we’re not the only member of the body! There are many members and we are all totally different. God has made us purposefully different in order to reveal different facets of Himself. But if we despise or neglect the other parts of the body of Christ we end up handicapped – not functioning in the fullness of God’s blessing. A nose shouldn’t despise the toes even if toes can’t smell a thing. Toes help a nose keep its balance!
Here are a few questions to help us evaluate our own lives in this area:
How do we treat Christians who are different to us? Do we judge them or learn from them? Do we despise them or respect them? Do we listen to them and work with them?
May God forgive us for not having valued those He has made. May He fill us with love and cleanse us of pride. May the Holy Spirit fill us afresh!
Heavenly Father, You have made each one of us.
Please forgive us for thinking we are more important or superior to others. Please break down the pride in our hearts so we can enjoy the full blessing of unity. Let us not be the ones to hinder the work of the Holy Spirit, but fill us with Him so we can live in a Spirit of humility and unity.