We live in a divided world. Some days it feels impossible to find common ground. A quick scroll through Facebook or Twitter reveals a handful of topics on which Christians bitterly disagree. Conversations about politics quickly descend into malicious and vilifying words. Judgmental arguments about topics such as government policies, healthcare, and matters of social justice abound. Our commitment to our own views can create unnecessary divides and shut out those who disagree with our way of thinking. Even topics of theology can lead to disunity. Who do we baptize? What versions of the Bible should we use? What is the role of men and women in the church? Unified relationships–even with other believers–can feel impossible to attain.
In the face of these challenges, Scripture unapologetically calls us to persevere towards unity in Christ. Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity!” I like that word “behold” at the beginning of verse. It’s basically telling us to stop for a moment and look at our relationships. Psalm 133 tells us that unity is the active ingredient that makes our relationships good and pleasant. We experience unity when we center our relationships around a shared faith and mutual goal of pleasing Christ and making him known.
Psalm 133 goes further to show us that the unity we experience in our relationships is a picture of the unity we experience with God. In verse two of Psalm 133 we are given a picture of Aaron, the priest, being covered with oil. This priestly act foreshadows the atoning work of Jesus. Just as the priest would be covered in oil and go before God on behalf of the people bringing unity again between God and man, Jesus brings that for believers. He allows us to be fully accepted by and united to God.
“We experience unity when we center our relationships around a shared faith and mutual goal of pleasing Christ and making him known.”
Despite our differences, we help each other through suffering, build up each other’s faith, and work together for the glory of God and the good of his people. When we remember that the bonds of Christ are more important than our differing opinions, we create a context to work, relax, play, worship, and enjoy life in each other’s company. With Christ as our center our relationships become characterized by encouraging and fulfilling interactions. Despite our differences, we can still experience good and pleasant relationships filled with happiness, humor, and enjoyment of one another.
Are you in unity with other believers, connected by your shared faith in Christ? Or, do you tend to cut people out of your life when you disagree? Take a look at your relationships. Are any of your relationships marked by bitterness, annoyance, or disdain? While, we may need to distance ourselves from relationships that are harmful or abusive, as far as it depends on us, we should live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). A mutual love for Jesus forms a foundation towards the goal of unified relationships which serve the wider community, and make Christ known to the watching world. Where can you pursue unity in your relationships today?