Terry R. Baughman
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
With great enthusiasm some have espoused the mantra, “Unity at any cost!” However, one should carefully consider the ramifications of such a philosophy. Though unity is much desired and a condition of valued importance, to be willing to pay any price for unity is impractical. True unity requires the participation of all parties. Some have sought unity by surrendering their moral values, by relinquishing their freedoms, or by divesting themselves of all investments and financial holdings, only to be cast aside and marginalized by some power crazed despot. True unity can only be achieved with shared goals and a mutual agreement on the principles of purpose. This is why most organizations or movements adopt a mission statement and establish a vision for their entity. A vision or mission statement helps to clarify the purpose for which they exist and a standard by which they might gauge their accomplishments. For any group to celebrate unity there must be an allegiance to their principles and purpose.
The church of the living God is a movement like no other. It is a vibrant cohesive organism that reveals Jesus Christ in the world. Paul described the intrinsic unity of this movement as a body … one body, and one Spirit. The same Spirit that is God also dwells in every believer. This common force brings us together to represent “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:5–6).
We celebrate the oneness of God. There is no division in Him. “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:9–10). For there to be enduring unity in the body there must be a consensus of doctrinal belief. We stand united in doctrine firmly founded on the teaching of God’s holy Word.
We celebrate the unity of “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). We must contend for our faith even at the risk of being accused of divisiveness. If we have no foundation of shared faith our fragile unity will not endure. Our faith, our values, our core moral convictions is what defines our belief system and provides a framework for unity. They are the standards to which we cling.
We celebrate the way of salvation. While pluralism teaches that there are many ways to God and that all faiths are equally valid, in truth there is only one way to God. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). There is only one authority to secure eternal salvation. It is only through the name of Jesus Christ, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
To be truly united, there must be shared faith, doctrine, and salvation. Unity is only possible in Christ. Paul explained this basis of unity, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. … for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27–28). Jesus is our standard for unity!
“That they may be one as we are” (John 17:11).