Monday: New Testament Illustrations of Unity
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The New Testament world of the first century was divided by caste, social status, and gender.

Image © Michael Agliolo from GoodSalt.com

Image © Michael Agliolo from GoodSalt.com

It was a society in social turmoil. The concepts of equal rights, freedom, and human dignity were not the accepted norms.

Then Christianity burst upon the scene. It created a social revolution. Jesus’ teachings of equality, justice, concern for the poor, and respect for the marginalized appeared radical. At the same time, New Testament believers united around the core values of Creation and Redemption. They taught that all human beings were created by God and that Redemption was made available to all people through the cross of Christ. The Cross showed that each person, regardless of his or her worldly status, was of immense value in God’s sight.

How do the following images illustrate the way in which different believers, regardless of their backgrounds, blend into a harmonious whole? 1 Cor. 12:12-181 Pet. 2:4-5.

What images could be more powerful to illustrate unity in the church? The apostle Paul uses the body to illustrate the church and its members. The body is closely knit. Its members are inter-related and mutually dependent upon one another. All parts have their function. If one part of the body suffers, the entire body suffers (1 Cor. 12:18-26).

Peter adds the illustration of a spiritual building with the members as stones, each fitting perfectly into the construction of a glorious temple that will glorify Jesus’ name. In these illustrations, each member is intimately linked. It was this bond of loving unity in a world of fractured relationships, power struggles, and divisive schisms that was to be a powerful argument for Christianity. Jesus stated this universal truth clearly: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, NKJV).

How well does your local church reflect the unity spoken about here? Ask yourself, too: are you helping to bring unity, or what attitudes might you be harboring that could be adding to the problem?

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Monday: New Testament Illustrations of Unity — 5 Comments

  1. What we read in John 17 we label as jesus's prayer for unity, yet not once is any one of his words translated "unity" because Jesus prayed for a form of a relationship between God the Father and the people Jesus introduced to the Father that would result in unity between these people. In other words, Unity is a byproduct. Byproduct of what? See how Jesus concludes/summarizes his prayer in verse 26. (NLT) I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

    The way Jesus's prayer is translated in verse 26 may leave one with impression that "once the disciples demonstrate unity, then Father's love for jesus will be in them". But in practice, unity is always demonstrated AFTER love is exercised. Chapter 16 and 18 indicate that the disciples listened to jesus's prayer in Chapter 17. In this prayer Jesus is basically painting a picture for the disciples of what the LOVE between Jesus and the Father looks like and asking the Father that this same kind of love would be implanted into the disciples that would result in a unifying behaviour between the disciples.

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  2. Neven, I think you are right that Love must come first before unity occurs. God's Love is at the heart of everything because His entire plan is based on a Love relationship. I pray that I keep that focus. Jesus really wanted the bonds of Love to unite His people so that a mighty work would be done--greater than what happened when He was here on earth. He wants the Good News of His kingdom of Love to go everywhere in the world so that He can return and wrap things up on this dark planet.

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  3. Unity doesn't mean that we become clones of one another. We are individuals that form a group that is united in purpose and that adhere to the principles of God's government. We have different levels of education, come from different backgrounds with different experiences. We all think a little differently and view things differently which is a product of the distribution of the gifts that Paul discusses in 1 Cor 12. We are not all an eye or a mouth or ear. Each of us have different functions and use different abilities that contribute to the whole body (1 Cor 12:12-25).

    Through the use of all the various gifts given to the church the body is built up into Christ. That is why we cannot dismiss anyone because they don't have the same gifts that we have. Their gifts are important too and together we all become the whole.

    Like(18)
    • Tyler, beautifully said. Indeed, the gifts are only important and useful when they are contributing to the whole-the entire body of Christ.

      Like(3)

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