The Unity of the Spirit

John 17.20-23

Five Fingers Make a United Fist
In a Peanuts cartoon Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channels, threatening him with her fist if he didn’t. “What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?” asks Linus. “These five fingers,” says Lucy. “Individually they’re nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold.” “Which channel do you want?” asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”
Source unknown

Acts 2.1
1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.

Acts 1.14
They all joined together constantly in prayer…

Ephesians 4.1-6

KJV, translates the Acts passages “one accord”; together; one mind; one; unity

Many biblical references to oneness
Children of one family; one Father; John 20:17
Disciples in one school; one teacher; John 13:13-35
Sheep in one flock; one shepherd; John 10:16
Members of one body; one head; Eph. 4:15
Stones in one building; one foundation; 1 Peter 2:3, 1 Cor. 3:11-12
From the Book of 750 Bible and Gospel Studies, 1909, George W. Noble, Chicago

Unity as prerequisite and product
Holy Spirit came as they prayed in unity; Holy Spirit produces unity. (True of holiness, as well.)

United in belief
In Jesus Christ; that he was God; that he died and was raised again to life. They witnessed his ascent. They heard his teaching, saw his miracles. They saw every word that he said come true as he told what would happen to him. And now he promised the Holy Spirit … and they believed.

Unity in obedience
Their belief is made concrete in their obedience. They waited. They prayed. They expected the gift of the Holy Spirit. They didn’t know how he was going to come, they didn’t now what exactly to expect; but as Jesus had told about his death, as he talked about the temple being torn down and built up in three days, they knew that Jesus’ word was true even if they didn’t fully comprehend how it would happen, and even if they couldn’t picture what it would look like if it happened.

Do we sometimes overlook God’s action in our lives because it doesn’t look like what we expect?

Unity in prayer
Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. -Matthew 18:19

They prayed together; they were brought into unity as they prayed. They believed in the power of prayer. They believed prayer to be communion with God, bringing them into one with God and with one with each other.

Unity in purpose: Mission
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. -Acts 1.8

Their mission is to be witnesses to the world. Their mission is to share Christ with the world. An awesome task, only possible if they are in agreement, only possible with the power, enablement, and guidance of the Holy Spirit. To this one purpose they prayed together.

Unity as witness: love
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. -Ephesians 4.2,3
This verse names four of the Fruit of the Spirit named in Galatians 5.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. -John 13.34,35

It is love that binds them together. As they are united in love, this be a witness to a world. John 13 and John 17 above say that this love and this unity will be “that the world may believe.” As love is a gift of the Spirit, it serves to accomplish the purpose of mission: proclaiming Christ.

The love shared between the Father and Son, is now available to believers. A love made visible in the incarnation. A love more full and complete than ever witnessed prior.

Jerome on John
John was known in the ancient church for his concern for love. Jerome tells of John in his extreme old age saying, whenever he was carried into the assembly, "Little children, love one another."
When his disciples got tired of this, they asked, "Master, why do you always say this?"
"It is the Lord’s command. If this alone be done, it is enough."    Jerome Commentary on Galatians at Gal 6:10

You Got to be Together
The Atlantic Monthly (11/94) told about superstar tenors Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti performing together in Los Angeles. A reporter tried to press the issue of competitiveness between the three men.
“You have to put all of your concentration into opening your heart to the music,” Domingo said. “You can’t be rivals when you’re together making music.”
That’s also true in the church.    Leadership, p. 68

In the church, we are not rivals, not as individuals, nor as churches. Our aim and purpose is one. And we do not concentrate on the music, but on God. If He remains our focus and our hearts are open to him, he will bring us into oneness: in belief, in obedience, in prayer, in mission, in love.

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