I have been hearing A LOT about unity lately. It seems to be on many people’s hearts this year, unity in the Body of Christ. People are trying to pull every denomination into a unified pursuit of Christ. That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? Denominational lines that have been drawn for centuries coming down to reach the world for Christ?
In Revelation, God reveals to us a picture of heaven that shows complete unity. Believers of all nations and sects come together in complete worship of our Savior. How beautiful that will be! Complete, unified, pure worship before the Lord.
In the meantime, as we look around, the last thing that many Christians could be called is unified. Not only across denominational lines, but also across churches within our own denomination. But, why are we shocked when churches of different denominations cannot intermingle well when our own denomination is in competition? Why are we surprised that churches within our denomination cannot be unified when our own church is not unified? Why are we perplexed when our church is not unified when our families are not united? Why are we astounded when our families are not in unity when our own heart is not in tune with God? We are often trying to “put the cart before the horse”. We find ourselves working from the outside in, instead of working from the inside out.
The psalmist says in Psalm 86:11, “…Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name.” The KJV puts it this way, “…Unite my heart to fear Thy name.” We must be willing for God to mold our hearts to be in complete unity with Him. Why? Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?” The Bible tells us that our heart is naturally more deceitful than anything else. No matter how much love I feel, how much compassion I have, how much unity I desire, without Christ working in me, my heart is even more deceitful than those things that I feel so strongly. It can trick me into viewing love, compassion and unity in the way it desires, not as God desires.
Verse 10 in Jeremiah 17 goes on to say, “I, Yahweh, examine the mind, I test the heart…” God knows that we say we want unity, but let’s be honest, we want unity on our own terms. We all picture unity in a different way with our own twist. My heart deceives me into expecting unity to look a certain way.
For example, when I am in right standing with Christ, I expect things to go smoothly. After all, Jeremiah 29:11 tells me that God’s plans for me are good. His plans are for me and for a hopeful future. My heart deceives me into expecting no trials, no difficulties. I pick and choose Scripture in a way that molds God into my way of thinking. God has to unite my heart with His so that my thinking comes into line with His truth. Unity is me coming to Him and allowing Him to mold me, not the other way around.
You can see that unity is hard work. We often struggle with wanting our own way versus God’s best for us. We need to pray that God would unite our heart so that we can live a life of unity with Him. We need to surrender to The Holy Spirit and allow Him to change our desires to unite with His desires.
Paul describes our struggle with unity so well in Romans 7:15-25 by revealing his own. He says that what his spirit wants to do, his flesh struggles with. He found himself doing things he did not want to do because his flesh was in disharmony with the Holy Spirit living inside of him. He was consistently frustrated with the situation until he remembered that Jesus had saved him from the bondage he was dealing with. He was now a slave to God and not to his flesh. His “deceitful heart” was no longer his master, Christ was.
Paul gave a great example of being on guard, constantly watching for unity between ourselves and God. He was aware of the relentless struggle and laid it before his Father.
Having a united heart before God is vital before we pursue unity in other areas. If I am not in unity with Christ, how can I encourage unity within my family, my church and beyond? If my heart is not in harmony with God’s heart, how can I even see the unity that is there? My heart consistently wants its’ own way, so I must consistently submit it to God.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (KJV) Solomon, the wisest man on earth, recognized how important our hearts are in making decisions. He recognized that it must be kept with diligence, or attentiveness. We must be careful to continually pray as David did in Psalm 139:23 and 24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” Then, we have a chance at unity. Then, we have a chance to unite our family. Then, we have a chance to be in unity with our local church, our denomination and others whose one desire is to seek the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
O, God, may we seek unity today. May we be aware of our struggle and place our heart at Your feet. Unite our heart with Your heart. Unite our heart with Your ways. Unite our heart to fear Your Name, the Name above all names. May we pursue You daily, hour by hour, minute by minute. Unite our hearts with one another in the way that You desire and not the way in which we expect.
We love You, Lord. Help us to love You more.