Both UNITY and PEACE are necessary for the proper work and functioning of the local church. “UNITY” in the Bible is oneness, like mindedness, or being of the same mind. “PEACE” means calm agreement and is used to describe harmonious relationships in Scripture. Early on, God expected His children to dwell in UNITY and in PEACE with one another. David wrote in Ps 133:1, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in UNITY”. Another of David’s writings in Ps 37:11: “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of PEACE”.
The N.T. epistles of Paul written to local congregations and Peter’s first letter to dispersed Christians in various cities, all promote UNITY and PEACE several times. UNITY is discussed in Romans, I Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, and I Peter. The concept of PEACE among brethren is presented in Romans, Galatians, Colossians, I Timothy, Hebrews, James, and I Peter. These divine instructions have been preserved for us and If we truly want to be the people of God, we will follow them closely.
Importance of UNITY at Wilsonville
Our Lord prayed for the UNITY of all believers and gave a reason for His desire. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be ONE, as You, Father, are in me and I in YOU; that they may also be ONE in Us, that the world may believe that YOU have sent Me”. (John 17:20-21). Jesus said that UNITY among the brethren at Wilsonville will promote faith to non Christians. On the contrary, DIVISION among believers promotes disbelief among non Christians.
Paul states that UNITY is one of the measuring sticks in demonstrating our resemblance to Christ. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we ALL come to the UNITY of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. (Eph 4:11- 13). Here Paul makes a strong point in regards to a local congregation. When God’s people are constantly working toward UNITY based on Faith (Our common conviction about the Savior and His teachings) and growing in our knowledge of Him, we begin to resemble Christ Himself. That should be the goal of each one of us and being UNITED can help us reach that goal.
In the Philippian letter, Paul stresses UNITY even harder. Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the SAME MIND, maintaining the SAME LOVE, UNITED in Spirit, intent on ONE PURPOSE. Do nothing from selfishness or empty deceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves”. (Phil 2:1-3). Therefore, when we have the SAME MIND Christ did, the SAME LOVE He demonstrated, and we are of ONE ACCORD or PURPOSE in being the church that Jesus purchased with His blood; we are truly UNITED in Spirit.
Importance of PEACE at Wilsonville
The idea of PEACE being tantamount to happiness in the life of a child of God is found early in the O.T. “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall DELIGHT themselves in the ABUNDANCE of PEACE”. (Ps 37:11). “Who is the man who desires life and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good. Seek PEACE and pursue it”. (Ps 34:12-14).
If any N.T. church needed advice on PEACE in a local congregation it would have to be Rome. These Christians were predominantly Gentile, but the Jews also constituted a substantial minority. During the First Century scriptural advice on keeping the PEACE would have been helpful anywhere, but especially in Rome. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for PEACE and the things by which one may edify another”. (Rom 14:19). Paul also gave a command to this effect. “If it is possible, as much as depends on YOU, live PEACEABLY with ALL men”. (Rom 12:18). Since PEACE is necessary for the well-being of individual Christians, it is certainly necessary for the stability and proper functioning of any congregation of those Christians.
“Beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect BOND of UNITY. Let the PEACE of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body and be thankful”. (Col 3:14-15). Proper brotherly love for one another completely BINDS members of a congregation in UNITY. The “PEACE of Christ” spoken of here is the attitude of PEACE that Christ had and gives to others. That PEACE in our lives rules out quarrels, strife, division, and feelings of bitterness. When these issues DO NOT EXIST, we then see the Scriptural PEACEFUL functioning of a local congregation.
Biblical Observations Concerning UNITY And PEACE
- The opposite of UNITY is DIVISION which is always condemned among Christians. I Cor 1:10.
- The opposite of PEACE is STRIFE and JEALOUSY both of which are condemned. I Cor 3:3.
- It takes righteousness living, humility, longsuffering, and forbearance by all, to “Keep the UNITY of the Spirit in the BOND of PEACE”. Eph 4:1-3.
- Selfishness, Self Promotions, and Selfish Ambitions have no place among God’s people. James 3:14.
- If we do not pursue holiness and PEACE with All, we cannot see God. Heb 12:14.
- We are to be LIKE-MINDED toward one another so that with ONE MIND and ONE MOUTH we may glorify both God and Christ. Rom 15:5-6.
- The Holy Spirit could have listed numerous conditions, but BEING PEACEABLE is a God given qualification for elders. I Tim 3:3.
How sweet, how heavenly is the sight, when those that love the Lord In one another’s PEACE delight, and so fulfill the word. When love in one delightful stream thro’ every bosom flows; When UNION sweet and dear esteem in every action glows. Love is the golden chain that BINDS the happy souls above; And he’s an heir of heaven who finds his bosom glow with love.