We agree the church needs unity but sometimes get bogged down in terminologies as with seeking renewal, reconciliation, reclamation, revival, or transformation. These are good things in which we assent but let's not get confused by too many terms. Let's think in terms of how God thinks which is covenant and commitment. The entire measurement of your well-being with God in the Old Testament was faithfulness…and it still is!
Francis Frangipane said, "It is a sin to ignore being united in worship and in war." I believe Francis is right. "Be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit" indicates we don't have to build it, we don't have to find it, we don't have to define it; we are to maintain what God has done in Christ, and it is a sin to ignore what Christ has wrought. He has made one new man which cannot say to itself, “I have no need of you”.
Sometimes our pursuit of those good things mentioned above has us focused on minors rather than majors. We will be remiss if we do not major on relationships being strengthened. There has been too much attempt at vertical control, power, authority, title— all based on activity exalted over “being”. The power that comes with being baptized in Holy Spirit is not the power to do but “you shall receive the power to be”.
God has a plan for His church to be victorious. We have a great destiny but there must also be yieldedness, a willingness to pursue that destiny of one new man to its conclusion. That is not possible without being eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.
This is why we seek likeminded ministers who have concluded that God is calling us to a level of unity beyond prior experience, one of covenantal proportions. Event driven unity is always temporary, aimed at a task. The unity of the Spirit has nothing to do with what we can do but everything to do with what will we be. Unity is not doing something together—that is togetherness; unity is a state of being and is already given us in Christ.
Allow me to point out the difference between two terms: adhesion and cohesion. Adhesion is that force that holds together unlike molecules whose surfaces have come in contact. They need glue, an adhesive. I have watched the church for decades looking for adhesives—fruitlessly, because the church will never adhere—it is not unlike molecules. The Church is the salt of the Earth. Salt has cohesion, an entirely different force by which the molecules of a single substance seek to bond with one another and by which they are held together.
Here is the application: where two begin thinking we are different and need to come together, they will seek adhesion. The adhesive will hold for a period and then break. Adhesion is not covenantal; cohesion is covenantal. Cohesion is: you're a Christian and I'm a Christian, you're seeking the Kingdom of God and I'm seeking the Kingdom of God—we are molecules of like substance. I'm seeking your betterment and you're seeking my betterment, because if one member suffers we all suffer, and if one member rejoices we all rejoice. Your advance is my advancement and mine, yours.
A coalition can fall apart after a period of time if it is merely adhesive, not cohesive. But there is a difference between coalition and covenant. Coalitions come together usually to combat a perceived common problem or common offense… come together to right this offense. When the offense is righted, if that does become the case, then the coalition begins to descend and fractionate into power struggles.
Covenant is a much different concept; covenant is cohesive. That is why you can take a salt block and place it in the woods, knowing it will withstand the severe winter storms (making provision for the deer and other animals) because it coheres. Salt holds to itself without any need for adhesives. It doesn't need glue because, by nature, it holds to itself. No external bond is required in the salt of the earth when agape, covenantal love, binds everything together in perfect harmony.
In closing, "even things without life either flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known whether piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for the battle?" We live in a culture that teaches us and trains us to avoid making commitments. Our culture is literally at war with commitments.
We are taught that our relationships should be formed on the basis of perceived needs and we relate to whosoever we believe can help to meet those needs. We are attracted on the basis of "What can you do for me?" And we are trained that when our needs change, it's time to find new friends, those who are more attuned to our new needs.
We all know as church leaders this is part of the problem in the church community; we have the “cruise-o-matics,” charismatic butterflies, running around from flower to flower sucking nectar here and there, their ultimate destiny just going back to being a worm. We know this is a problem and we wonder, "How do you get people in the church to be committed to the things that are important and significant?"
I submit to you, if the bugle is making an uncertain sound, the troops will not form for the battle. It starts at the top. If the leader's level of commitment is uncertain, how will the people ever line up with certainties? I believe that as leadership visibly demonstrates a commitment to unity, then the church will quickly make its commitment, because commitment is contagious. You've all seen a thousand times when it has been so. It only takes one voice to change a room. But it must be a committed voice, a voice persuaded and confident and insistently and persistently committed to a concept, a purpose.
We need to commit to one another in truly cohesive ways, not with mere adhesives which are confined to what-can-you-do-for-me—what-can-I-do-for-you relationships, but with actual agape love, a love by choice. Sometimes Christian friends will just be a pain in the neck. Sometimes our lives are sorely discomforted because of relationships. As believers, however, we refuse to change relationships because they get uncomfortable. We make a commitment to those with whom we relate and we stand in covenant.
From my perspective it is a statement, "I am your blood covenant brother. I will never hurt you. I will never compete with you. I will never attempt to make you less than you are. I will seek your highest good. I will desire in prayer and in deed to put you over the top so that you and I together can move on in God."
If we make an uncertain sound, no one will follow. We can preach all the sermons we want on unity in our individual assemblies but little is going to change. When there is a visible demonstration from leaders, then the church, in fact, will recognize it is united.
John the Baptist was the voice of One who made ready the territory to receive Christ to take His place. Can we rise up as the voice of One with one voice to usher in the rule and reign of Christ, to see God’s Kingdom come? I say, “Yes, Lord, may the world believe that the Father sent You because they see that we are one.” (John 17:21)
© 2015 Walter Healy is a USCAL member based in Tom’s River, New Jersey. http://www.graceandpeace.org