The Jerusalem church grew like wildfire. No doubt, the quickly developing relationships within that local body helped promote the rapid and sustained growth. According to Acts 4:32, the “full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul…” Unity produced stability. Stability produced growth. If we want to grow like Jerusalem, we need unity. But why?
(If you landed on this post without seeing the others in this series, let me explain what is going on here. Right now, when I write about God’s Way for Our Congregations, I’m in the middle of a series on the Jerusalem church and it’s success. This is the 14th post in the series. I know, I know, that’s awfully long, but there is a lot to learn from the Jerusalem church. I encourage you to check out the introduction to this series to know more about what is going on and to find an index of the posts in this series as they are put up. Enjoy.)
Why is Unity So Important?
Philippians 1:27-2:11, provides a great outlook on why unity is necessary and how to achieve it. Today, we’ll start with why unity is necessary.
Philippians 1:29-30 demonstrates that unity within the congregation is necessary because when we venture into the world, we are going to suffer. Satan can’t stand that we have dedicated our lives to Jesus Christ. He is doing anything and everything in his power to get us to separate from Jesus. One of the easiest ways to accomplish that is to separate us from Jesus’ family. If we are isolated, disconnected, unassociated, we are easy pickings. The mountain lion doesn’t attack the gazelle in the middle of the herd. He looks for the one that is separated and disconnected.
Because of our suffering, we need connection to people who understand where we’ve been and where we are. We need people to rely on. We need a safe haven of friends to uplift us. For a good example of that, look again at Jerusalem. In Acts 4:1-31, Peter and John had been taken prisoner for healing a man. (Imagine that! “Um, yes sir, we have to arrest you for healing that man. We can’t have any unauthorized healings going on around here.”) When they had been threatened and released, where did they go? They went to their friends. What did they do? They prayed. When Peter and John suffered, they had friends they could turn to for help and rely on for powerful encouragement. They had a unified group of believers who would help them turn to the only place they could get true strength and courage.
Why Is Disunity Such a Problem?
I don’t want to simply provide you with an unhealthy dose of guilt. However, I can’t think about this without wondering why there are so many churches that aren’t unified. Sadly, I think the problem is so few of us (myself included sometimes) let the gospel so affect us that either Satan or the world sees us as a threat. Therefore, they let us pass through without any notice. Because they aren’t attacking us, we don’t need a safe haven. Therefore it becomes too easy for us to turn in on ourselves and become the backbiters and devourers against which Paul warned in Galatians 5:15.
I’m not saying we should go out and pick fights with non-Christians or Satan. I’m just suggesting that when we let the gospel radically affect us, suffering will increase. When that happens, we will learn why we need unity in the body. Then we’ll understand why it helped Jerusalem so much.