Left to itself, humanity cannot create unity. Need evidence? Just glance over the current social and political landscape throughout our world.
Yet, unity is possible. It exists. However, we remain inept at building it. The best we can do is maintain it. Unfortunately, some are not willing to pay the price to either enter into it or preserve it.
While humanity is incapable of bringing all things together, God can. Examples exist of perpetrators and victims being unified. Adversaries becoming friends. Sunnis and Shiites becoming brothers. The list goes on.
Within his Ephesian letter Paul outlined God’s bold initiative to forge unity out of disparate entities. To achieve this, God used a single principle – Christ’s blood. With that blood spilt on the cross God can bring together not only the things of heaven and earth, but also a divided humanity.
Whereas unholy people cannot enter into fellowship with the holy Creator, God’s plan called for using Christ’s blood to redeem sinful people. He would transform them into a blameless and holy people. Although they had been dead in sin and engaged in serving destructive and divisive forces, God would raise them up with Christ to participate in a new humanity as God’s workmanship.
Humanity itself, however, was divided. Some benefited from God’s former covenant while others remained far from God and without hope. Christ’s blood would forge one new humanity out of two thus establishing peace.
Unity comes at a price. Christ’s death paid the price in full. And while we cannot earn nor contribute toward establishing the unity God creates, if we wish to participate in what God has achieved it will also cost us something.
In Jesus’ words, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:33-34).
Or as Paul would express it: “he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised” (1 Cor. 5:15).
Participating in God’s unity project requires us to abandon doing things our way. We must serve Christ. Not everyone is willing to be crucified with Christ in baptism in order to be raised up into a new life God’s power makes possible. Not everyone wants to begin living in a new way promoting God’s objectives.
For those willing to depend upon Christ’s blood, willing to walk in his footsteps, eager to become part of God’s unity project Paul exhorted, “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. … Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1,3).
After all, God’s work and Christ’s gifts involved providing the spiritual beachhead known as the church with the tools necessary “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12,13).
No wonder then that within the spiritual warfare we find ourselves, we are not to allow evil to gain a foothold in our lives and thus grieve the Spirit. God’s work involves unifying everything under the headship of Christ.
Unity comes at a price. It cost God the blood of his Son. For us to participate, we pay the price of being united with Christ in a death like his, so that our old self might be crucified with Christ. Becoming free from sin, we are to live for God. And we are to maintain what God has achieved.