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What Is Real Unity in Jesus Christ?

by David A. DePra

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send

peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance

against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the

daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall

be they of his own household. (Matt. 10:34-35)

     When we read these words of Jesus Christ, we get the distinct

impression that if He came to bring unity, it certainly can't be unity as

man knows it. In fact, Jesus doesn't mince words about it at all. He

says outright that He came, not to bring peace and unity, but


     What could Jesus possibly be talking about here? Aren't

Christians supposed to be unified? Aren't we one Body?

     The apostle Paul seems to think so. Let's read a few of his

comments on the issue:

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of

peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in

one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one

God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you

all. (Eph. 4:1-6)

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the

Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of

the fulness of Christ: (Eph. 4:13)

That ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the

faith of the gospel. (Phil. 1:27)

Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being

of one accord, of one mind.....Let this mind be in you, which was also

in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 2:2, 5)

Be ye all of one mind. (I Peter 3:8)

     This is just a sample of the many passages in the New

Testament which emphasize the necessity of unity among the Body

of Christ. Yet Jesus seemed to say the opposite. How do we

reconcile the two?

What Is Unity?

     First, what is "unity?" Basically, it is agreement. Unity is present

when a group of people are in agreement. Any principle, theory,

course of action, or way of thinking upon, which there is agreement,

can be said to be the issue upon which there is unity.

     Unity can be multi-layered. It can even exist when there is much

disagreement on other issues. But when two or more people are

in agreement about the nature of something, and in agreement

about what they will do about it, it can be said that there is unity.

     Now that being the case, we still have Jesus telling us that He

came to bring division. But we have Paul telling us that we need

to be unified. How is this not a contradiction?

     Actually, in these passages we find a great principle, which, if

Christians would grasp it, would revolutionize our thinking. That

principle is this:

The only acceptable unity to God is that which is in Jesus Christ.

Thus, all unity which is NOT in Jesus Christ must be brought down.

     This explains the apparent contradiction which we have asked

about. Jesus was talking about the fact that He was going to

dismantled every unity which was not based in Himself. THAT kind

of unity must be destroyed. But Paul was talking about unity in

Jesus Christ. This is true Christian unity and God's will for His


Wrong Kinds of Unity

     The wrong kind of unity is when we are unified in evil, error, or

our own interests. And of course, the possibilities here are all over

the map. We have seen it in history. Nazi Germany had great

unity for awhile, and consequently, was able to accomplish a great

deal. But because they were unified under an evil leader, the things

accomplished were, in the end, also evil.

     If we turn to Christianity, however, we are getting more to the point.

Christians become polarized in many things. They become unified

in movements, lines of teaching, under certain leadership, and in

particular doctrines. But the fact is, if the center of it all is not the

Person of Jesus Christ, then our unity is not a good thing. It is a bad

thing; a thing which Jesus said He came to destroy.

     Unity in the wrong thing, in the eyes of God, is actually DIVISION.

Have you ever realized that? Anytime a group of Christian people

rally around something other than Christ -- even something which

might otherwise be "good" -- they are actually bringing division, and

not unity. Why? Because they are, as it were, "fencing off"

themselves into an elite area. They are saying, "You have to

believe this to be a REAL Christian. You must join US, and become

one of US, or you are not REALLY in God's will."

     This is the kind of thing the Bible calls a "schism." And it is the

type of thing Jesus came to destroy, and which Paul says must be

shunned at all cost.

     Leadership in the Body of Christ are often responsible for causing

these types of schisms. They get off into a particular line of teaching

and it becomes obsessive. In time, a "different Jesus" is created

around the teaching, and those who unite in it become terribly


     One modern example of this is the "prosperity teaching" which is

somewhat prevalent on Christian television among the charismatics.

This teaching, which states that it is always God's will for you to

becomes rich, and that this is accomplished if you give money to

a ministry, is error. But it has become so widely taught and so

widely practiced among some churches, that it literally dominates

their Christian faith. And many people are totally united in it.

     This type of unification is, in the eyes of God, one which must be

dismantled. And it is further proof that it does not matter how many

people, ordained ministers, spiritual leaders, and denominations

believe something -- it guarantees nothing as the Truth.

Unity Proves Nothing

     Herein we see another great principle about unity. It is often

stated that unity protects the Truth. In other words, if we mandate

that everyone believes the same thing, then the Truth we believe

will never be lost. The trouble, unity can keep Truth OUT just

as effectively as it can keep it in. There is nothing harder to

penetrate than a group of people unified in error. That's because

the minute real Truth is introduced, there is always someone to

deflect it. People tend to reinforce error in each other just as

effectively as we should reinforce the Truth.

     Such is the folly in thinking that if we set up some sort of "check

and balance" system in the Body of Christ, that this alone will insure

we are in the will of God, and possess the Truth. This idea has

some merit to be sure, but actually insures nothing. Why? Because

there is such a thing as group deception. And if the whole group is

deceived, then all a "check and balance" system is going to do is

keep Truth OUT, and the error in.

     Take for example, the Jehovah Witnesses. If you went into one

of their churches and told them the Truth about Jesus Christ, to a

man they would say you were wrong. They would be unified in

that, and say God was with them. But to a man they would be wrong.

They ALL have the wrong concept of Christ. Such things are just

as possible in the more conventional Christian churches.

     As we read the gospels and the epistles, we must come to one

conclusion: Unity is not in doctrine -- although doctrine is important.

Unity is not in my church -- although church is important. Neither is

unity is my theories, teaching, or outlook. No. Unity is in the Person

of Jesus Christ.

The Same Mind

     We begin to understand true unity if we go back to one or two of

the passages we read earlier from Paul's epistles.

Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being

of one accord, of one mind.....Let this mind be in you, which was also

in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 2:2, 5)

     Now note: Paul says, "Be likeminded." Other places he says

"Be of ONE mind." But WHOSE mind? He answers, "Let THIS

mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."

     Here we see the key to true unity. We must all have the mind of

Christ. Contrast this to that which is NOT unity: To have the mind of

a leader or teacher. To simply adopt someone else's thinking.

     Now, don't misunderstand. If a leader or teacher is sharing the

Truth, that is wonderful. We should believe it. But NOT simply

because we have allowed the mind of that teacher to "be in us."

Not simply because we have accepted what they have to say

without questioning. No. We should take what they say before

God. And if God shows us that it is HIS mind, then we should let

God's mind be in us, for it is the "mind of Christ."

Individuals First

     In effect, true unity is achieved when INDIVIDUAL believers are

first centered in Christ for themselves. Then, and only then, can

they be unified in each other -- in the right Person.

     This is the opposite of the way in which man thinks. Worldly

unity mandates that people give up their thinking and their

independence. Godly unity mandates that people exercise their

liberty and freedom to have a one-on-one relationship with Christ.

When individuals are focused in Christ, then real unity emerges.

That's because we will all be under the same Head.

     Christians for two-thousand years have tried to force unity

through the power of religious flesh. They have tried to construct

all kinds of systems and rules through which unity was to be

maintained. But you cannot accomplish unity this way. The only

way to unify individual Christians in Christ is to bring those

individuals into a personal relationship with Him. Then, and only

then, will there be unity with each other.

     We must see this. Unity starts with the "vertical relationship"

between the individual and God. Then the "horizontal" is possible.

That's because Jesus Christ will be the foundation and center.

There is NO unity except it be in Jesus Christ. In Him we must


Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the

Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of

the fullness of Christ: (Eph. 4:13)

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