Unity of the Body of Christ
First Family Church believes that all Christians are called to keep the unity of the body of Christ through patience, kindness, gentleness, humility, compassion, forgiveness and love for the common objective of glorifying God and our Lord Jesus Christ as the one and only way to eternal life.
Biblical References on Unity:
Called to Unity
Ephesians 4:3- Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. NIV
Romans 15:5-7- May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. NIV
Characteristics Leading to Unity
Colossians 3:12-17- Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. NIV
Unity Brings Glory to God
John 17:20-23- “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. NIV
Jesus is the Only Way to Eternal Life
John 14:6- Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. NIV
Unity Within the Body of Believers
Just as parents are blessed when there is no strife in the household and their children are all getting along, our heavenly father is blessed when His children that make up the body of Christ get along. In Psalm 133 David writes “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” First Family Church is committed to doing our part to keep the unity with those committed to the fundamental truths of the Bible upon which rests our hope of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. These fundamental truths are contained within “Our Core Beliefs” which is attached at the end of this paper. Christ, himself, prayed for both the unity of his current disciples and the unity of those who will believe in his prayers in the garden of Gethsemane.1,2 How important is our unity if Christ felt the need to pray for this in his time of great passion?
The purpose of this unity is not to allow everyone of us to do as he pleases. A common phrase once stated “If it feels good then do it.” The purpose of unity is not for our own pleasure but that God is glorified1,2 through a healthy body.3,4,5, 6 When Christians are unified, then the love we have for each other and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, brings glory to God.1,2
Each Christian is responsible for keeping the unity that glorifies God. It begins with our own relationship with Christ and being connected to Him through His Word and in prayer.7 Next come our personal relationships at home, with our spouse, with our children or parents and with friends. Then it extends out to others in our home church, our community, and to missionaries until it includes the entire body of Christ.
Not only does God command us to keep the unity, but God, through the Trinity, exemplifies this. Jesus humbled himself and became a man subject to the will of God the Father, and now the Holy Spirit completes His work in us as we grow and mature in our faith.8,9 These attitudes allow Christians to focus on the great commission of reaching others for Christ even when they disagree on individual preferences.
Now if God has called us each to unity, and we are all responsible for keeping it, then how do we do it? Unity is not kept by an individual or group lording it over the rest of the body, but when everyone in the body serves each other.10 In fact, it is clear in Scripture that unity is maintained through a Christ like attitude of love and service. These attitudes include patience, kindness, gentleness, humility, compassion, forgiveness and love.11,12
Although unity is not kept by forceful government of an individual or group, the elder body is called to maintain the unity within itself and the congregation for which it is called to shepherd. Scripture is clear that each pastor/elder is responsible to inspect himself and those in the body of elders to protect the congregation.13,14,15
Unity is prayed for by Christ, modeled by the trinity, the responsibility of each Christian, maintained through Christ-mindedness, and cared for by the leaders of the congregation. The ultimate goal of Christian unity is God’s glory.
1. John 17:6-11- “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. (7) Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. (8) For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. (9) I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (10) All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. (11) I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name the name you gave me so that they may be one as we are one. NIV
2. John 17:20-23- “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, (21) that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (22) I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: (23) I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. NIV
3. Romans 12:1-8- Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship. (2) Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good, pleasing and perfect will. (3) For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (4) Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, (5) so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (6) We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to hisfaith. (7) If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; (8) if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. NIV
4. Romans 15:5-13- May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, (6) so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (7) Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (8) For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jewson behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs (9) so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.” (10) Again, it says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” (11) And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples.” (12) And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.” (13) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. NIV
5. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7- There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. (5) There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. (6) There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. (7) Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. NIV
6. Ephesians 4:1-6- As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (2) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (3) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism; (6) one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. NIV
7. John 15:4- Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. NIV
8. Philippians 2:5-11- Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, (7) but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (8) And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross! (9) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, (10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. NIV
9. John 14:16-21- And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever (17) the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (18) I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (19) Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (20) On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (21) Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” NIV
10. Matthew 20:25-28- Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. (26) Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, (27) and whoever wants to be first must be your slave (28) just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” NIV
11. Philippians 2:1-4- If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, (2) then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. (3) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (4) Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. NIV
12. Colossians 3:12-17- Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (13) Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (14) And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (15) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (17) And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. NIV
13. 1 Timothy 3:1-3- Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. (2) Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (3) not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. NIV
14. Acts 20:28-31- Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (29) I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. (30) Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. (31) So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. NIV
15. 1 Peter 5:1-4- To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: (2) Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; (3) not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (4) And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. NIV