Unity is such a central theme throughout the New Testament, and is emphasized throughout the Bible as a whole. Psalm 133:1 says “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity”. Paul urged early Christians to to “maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3) and Jesus himself prayed to the Father that his followers would “be one even as we are one” (John 17:22) Jesus is even called the “Prince of Peace”! (Isaiah 9:6)
Personally I hate conflict. I like relationships and communication to be smooth, agreeable and comfortable at all times. When I sense a disagreement about to take place I dread addressing the situation.
But just because I have adverse feelings toward conflict, should I let that dictate my interpretation of scripture. What kind of peace, and what kind of unity is the scripture urging us toward?
Should I avoid confrontation at all costs in the name of unity? Should I be willing to combine ministry efforts with anyone regardless of their views in the name of unity? Should I represent Christ as just an equal alternative to other religious leaders or world religions? Should I minimize the importance of accurate teaching within the church? Based on my understanding of the scripture, my answer to all of these questions is no. We should have peace, but not peace at any price. The gospel is too valuable to be sacrificed for a superficial brand of unity.
Because the terms “peace” and “unity” have been so largely hijacked and filled with unbiblical meaning I want to suggest using a different word to encourage a Biblical view of peace and unity – Solidarity.
solidarity n: unity based on shared interests, objectives or standards