all together now

by CODY CARNES

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

1 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)

Love Expressed

Have you ever watched someone run lights for a concert? Watching the hands of one person push a few small faders up and down to control an entire stage of hundreds of lights at one time is fascinating. It’s often a time-consuming and meticulous process to set the lights up, plug them in and focus them on the precise spots they need to illuminate. But once they’re connected to the source and operating in unity exactly as they were designed to, they create a beautiful picture and transform the entire atmosphere.

Unity is powerful and valuable. The Bible says where there is unity, “that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life” (Psalm 133:3, MSG). Wow. God must really want to see His church unified.

So how do we live in unity when we’re all so different? How is it possible to relate to everyone around us without any conflict? When I read scriptures about unity, I see one all-important, consistent factor—the Holy Spirit. I don’t think unity has as much to do with how we connect to each other as it does with how we connect one-on-one with the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:3 (NLT) says: “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” When my first focus is unity with the Holy Spirit, I am automatically bound together with everyone else who is also unified with the Spirit. Because we’re all connected to the same source, unity comes naturally. When we focus on yielding and submitting our lives to the Holy Spirit, He brings us together.

And just like lights do at a concert, unity in the Body of Christ creates a beautiful picture and can transform any atmosphere. I love the way Paul describes unity in 1 Corinthians 12 (NLT):

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit … If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. (1 Corinthians 12:12–13, 17–18; emphasis added)

Being a unified body doesn’t mean we all operate exactly the same, look the same way or live out the same calling. It means we’re all connected to the same “brain”—the Holy Spirit. Just like our brains communicate with our hands and tell them to move, the Holy Spirit communicates with us. When we obey, we can confidently walk in what we were created to do.

What’s more, our obedience is actually worship to the Lord. Colossians 3:14 (NLT) says: “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” When we express our love to our heavenly Father by obeying Him, we are actually worshipping. And the more we worship, the more we love the way God loves. It’s a cycle of increasing unity. In the midst of our unique and purposeful differences, we are united with God’s heart and therefore united with each other.

Jesus prayed for us to have this kind of unity in John 17:21–23 (NLT):

“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”

Let’s be the church Jesus prayed for. Let’s live in unity and change the atmosphere. It starts right here, right now … with you and me. Let’s connect with the Holy Spirit daily, obey Him, worship Him with everything we have and love the people around us the way He loves them.

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified.

A.W. TOZER

Prayer

Father, thank You for showing me the power of unity. I want the church to be what You’ve created it to be, and I understand it starts with me. I want to keep my focus on You. I want to walk side by side with You every second of my life. Continue to show me who I am. Continue to teach me how to worship and show me how to love the people around me the way You do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For Further Study

  • Philippians 2:1–11
  • 1 Peter 3:8–9 (NLT)
  • Romans 12:4–16 (NIV)
  • Romans 15:5–6 (NKJV)
Philippians 2:1–111 Peter 3:8–9 (NLT)Romans 12:4–16 (NIV)Romans 15:5–6 (NKJV)
CODY CARNES
1 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)