We can go further here, and speak of the…
Unity in the Gospel
Most of what I’ve said so far is vertical in nature, between us and God. But can you see that when we’ve been united to and made one with the Godhead in salvation, that this great work of redemption has horizontal effects? Union with Christ leads to unity in Christ. So, true unity begins with the gospel, is upheld by the gospel, lasts by the gospel, and spreads because of the gospel.
It begins with the gospel in Ephesians 2:1-10, we were dead in our trespasses and sins’ but God (2:4-5) made us alive together with Christ. By grace we have been saved through faith. This is not our own doing, it’s all the gift of God. This is not a result of our own works, so that no one may boast (2:8-10).
But the gospel doesn’t end with our salvation, it leads to a very disruptive implication, unity. Paul writes of Jews and Gentiles at the end of Ephesians 2, saying that God has “…abolished the dividing wall of hostility that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And He came and preached peace to you were far off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
Did you notice here that it is the gospel alone that upholds unity? How did God get rid of the hostility between Jew and Gentile, two peoples who hate each other? How did He do it? The cross of Christ, where Jew and Gentile are reconciled, given peace, and remade from two separate peoples into one new people. A people who together have access to the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.
If we continue down in Ephesians, going all the way 3:10 we find the purpose of this disruptive unity. Why did God unite two peoples who didn’t want anything to do with each other? Why does God unite people in His Church today by the blood of His Son? Ephesians 3:10, God’s purpose is “…that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” What is on display in the unity of the Church? The character of God! This is the principle we just saw in John 17 – the unity within the Church is a reflection of the unity we see in the community of the Trinity.
Let’s make this a more modern parallel than Jews/Gentiles.
Consider liberal Democrats and tea party Republicans, or think of the trendy-hip-Broadway singer and the Miller-Lite loving, NRA member NASCAR fan. You bring these groups of people together in a local church, where they would rub shoulders regularly and you’d think things would explode right?
Because the one thing they have in common just happens to be the most important thing in world – Christ. Union with Christ creates unity in Christ. A unity like this is so unexpected, so contrary to how our world operates, that the ‘rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms’ take notice and get a first hand glimpse at the character and wisdom of God.
This is the kind of unity that reveals the gospel, it is this kind of community we must seek to foster at SonRise. Because, to quote Mark Dever ‘When Christians unite around something other than gospel, we create a community that would likely exist even if God didn’t.’
So, true unity in community begins with the gospel, is upheld by the gospel, lasts by the gospel, and spreads because of the gospel.