Unity in the Body of Christ: Unity, But Not for Unity’s Sake


Lord’s Library contributor Nate Myers calls for unity in the Body of Christ, but not for unity’s sake, in this commentary. Check out Nathaniel’s YouTube channel and podcast called Fortitude in Truth. Lord’s Library’s Ministry Leaders Series is a collection of contributed articles written by ministry leaders on key Christian topics.

Ministry Leaders Series BadgeThat path of history that has led us to the 21st century has seen Christ’s church seemingly split time and time again. Even today, we have seen Christian denominations continue to split over many issues. Some of those issues are secondary and some are primary. What remains to be seen is why, as Christians, we do not always seek unity, but rather emphasize knowledge and the need to be right.

Psalm 133:1 states, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” We, as God’s people are called to speak the truth in love, but we are also called to peace and unity. See Ephesians 4:15: “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”

“In essentials unity, in doubtful matters liberty, and in all things charity.”

In 1 Corinthians, Paul calls for there to “be no divisions” and to “be perfectly joined together.” See verse 10: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

The Gospel

Unity in the Body of Christ

This call for unity is essential for the Church, but it must be clarified that it is not a call to unity for unity’s sake. However, what unites us should be greater than what has divided us.

Scriptural calls for unity are frequent. It seems rather obvious that Christ would want His Church to be unified as one. Why then, over the span of a few millennia, has the Church continued to split and divide? Without getting too far into the weeds, the simple answer is that we, as humans, have fallen. Even as Christians, we let our sinful natures impact our lives, our prayers, our interpretations of Scripture, etc.

The worst part is, often, we do not even know that it is happening. Through the years, many varying opinions on different interpretations of Scripture and theologies that stem from Scripture have caused continuing denominational divides. While the purpose of this article is not to give an overview of Church history, one would do well to have at least a basic understanding of it.

Two major concerns stem from the progression of history. Firstly, many heresies have arisen, and these issues should not unify us. Second, many opinions on secondary issues have arisen, these should not divide us.

It is important to let Scripture define what is primary. While even this becomes debatable among Christians, there are some basic tenets that we should all be able to agree on. If we cannot agree on these, then we should not be unified, because the following are just a few unquestionably central tenets of Christianity.

The person and work of Christ (including a basic understanding of the fallen human condition) are central to the Christian faith. So too, is the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. The Trinity, though not explicitly called that in Scripture, is an essential aspect of God. Early Church councils (e.g., Nicaea, Constantinople, etc.) sought to weed out and expose heresies (e.g., Arianism, Docetism, Apollinarianism, etc.) against the central tenets of Christianity.

Even today, some groups deny the central tenets of Christianity and consequently should be treated as unbelievers, who still need to know the truth (e.g., Modalists, who believe that God is one and He shifts his “persona” or mode to either Father, Son, or Holy Spirit.). In instances of heresy, there should not be unity. That does not mean that we should not speak the truth in love, as we should to all people.

Likewise, we should continue to teach all nations what Christ has commanded. See Matthew 28:19-20: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

But those who affirm the central tenets of Christianity should let those truths unite them, that in fulfilling their roles within the Church, the Bride of Christ might be presented pure and blameless at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

“In essentials unity.”

Unfortunately, more often than not, secondary issues have crept in to deeply divide the Church. I have often heard local Churches and even entire denominations tout that they are the only ones who have it all right, and all the others are wrong. Which, in reality, is a logical fallacy, as no one denomination (as we are all fallen), has everything completely correct according to Scripture.

Take, for example, the growing divide between Arminians and Calvinists. While each has its view on how salvation is played out philosophically and in the life of the believer, both agree that Jesus is the only one who can save and that salvation came as a result of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, both present a need for the responsibility of the individual believer to “repent and believe” (even though they disagree on how the believer can do this). This staunch division, while unavoidable, is unnecessary. This issue, among other secondary issues, need not be divisive. Furthermore, such disagreements should push each individual, as they are faced with secondary beliefs that are contrary to their own (or even in agreement) back into the text of Scripture.

“In doubtful matters, liberty.”

The Spirit will guide the believers into all truth, see John  16:13: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

We likely will not arrive at the full Truth of Scripture on this side of eternity. However, God has seen fit to give his Scripture in a way that what is plain should be central and primary, and what is unclear or mysterious should be worked out according to the Word and the Spirit. There is no perfect guide for this, and there is no doubt that even Church life can be messy.

But the last line of that famous phrase, along with Paul’s words in Ephesians should serve as a pretty good guide. “In all things charity” or “in all things love.” See Ephesians 4:14-16: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

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Nate Myers
Nate Myers

Nate Myers

Nathaniel is an ordained minister, currently serving in a lay capacity at his local Church. He received his Master of Divinity from Liberty University in 2023 and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Bible Exposition from the same university. He has a passion for teaching, preaching, and writing. Nathaniel is also the co-host of the “Fortitude in Truth” which is a podcast aimed to teach and promote the strength and sufficiency of Scripture.

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