A Focus on Unity in the Church

By P. Daniel Buford

Unity in the church is a subject that is near and dear to the heart of God. P. Daniel Buford writes that in our unity, we accomplish God’s will.

Blest be the tie that binds / Our hearts in Christian love / The fellowship of kindred minds / Is like to that above (John Fawcett).

Focus on Unity in the ChurchI received an urgent message, “Please bind together with us in prayer.” The need was real, the request was genuine, but the message was a bit cryptic. I am thankful I understood it.

“Please bind together with us in prayer.” It is not about bondage. The binding is not destructively restricting. Instead, in contrast, it is constructively releasing. Being bound together with other believers in prayer releases our faith and God’s faithfulness. The binding together of believers in unity releases God to fulfill His promise. “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19–20).

Unifying Fellowship

Pastor John Fawcett wrote the hymn “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” after an emotional near-separation and subsequent reunion with the members of his beloved congregation in Wainsgate, England. Consider his words expressing the blessing of unifying fellowship:

Blest be the tie that binds / Our hearts in Christian love; / The fellowship of kindred minds / Is like to that above.

Blessed unity is when the things that bind us together are greater than the things that divide us.

Blessed unity is when the things that bind us together are greater than the things that divide us.

In response to a question posed by the Pharisees, Jesus responded, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). In some cultures, this joining together of man and wife has been described by saying, “They tied the knot.” Some marriage ceremonies even include the tying together of two cords, symbolizing God’s joining together of the man and woman. When my wife and I were making wedding plans, we asked her pastor, Curtis Young; my pastor, T. D. Cardwell; and the pastor I was assisting, R. E. Johnson, to officiate. My statement to them at the time was, “I don’t want the knot to come untied.” One minister responded, “If you don’t pick at it, the knot will stay tied!”

Sailors use a sharp tool called a “fid” when untying difficult knots, picking at the cords to work them loose. Some knots, however, you don’t want to come loose. For instance, knots that tie you to those with whom you share communion in Christ are better left tied.

Unity: We Are Better Together

When Pastor Rick Wyser served on the Curriculum Committee of the UPCI, he showed us the “together” expressions of Ephesians 1–4: gathered together, quickened together, raised up together, made to sit together, fitly framed together, built together, and fitly joined together. Yes, Paul taught that the believers are together in more ways than one!

Hebrews 10:25 teaches the believers to remain connected to the church, the body of believers. Do not forsake the church; do not abandon the church; do not desert the church. This instruction goes beyond just missing a Wednesday night Bible study. The word for forsake is the same word Paul used when he told of Demas forsaking him—deserting and abandoning him (II Timothy 4:10).

Salvation: A Common Thread That Unifies

Jude, in verse 3, defined his audience—”you of the common salvation.” Common, not because salvation was cheap, not because salvation was found everywhere, but because salvation was shared by all believers. Then, after identifying one of the “knots” holding them together, Jude admonished the believers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Don’t pick at the knot that holds you together.

The Psalmist’s Take on Unity

The psalmist David, in Psalm 133, a Song of Ascent, exposes us to a Philippians 4:8-type of thought: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” To help us better understand his declaration, he gave us an example. “It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments.”

Together and United We Become Holy unto the Lord

The precious ointment was the holy anointing oil of Exodus 30:22-25. There were five ingredients: pure myrrh, sweet cinnamon, sweet calamus, cassia, and olive oil. The oil was not holy by itself, and none of the individual spices were holy by themselves. It was the mixture, in its proper proportions, for the proper reason, that was holy. It was not just one spice and oil, it was a mixture of four spices and oil. The complete mixture became holy unto the Lord. As members in particular of God’s church, together, united, we become holy unto the Lord in our unified mixture.

The Psalms of Ascent were written to be sung as family by family, and tribe by tribe the children of Abraham made their way to the city of their Sanctuary. As the brooks and streams of people from various places throughout Israel flowed into a river of humanity entering into Jerusalem for days of sacrifice and celebration, they were being joined together like spices and oil joining together. They were being brought together as the congregation of the righteous to the glory of their God.

And today the church marches together toward the City of our God, to the glory of our God. In our unity, we accomplish His will.

Blest be the tie that binds.

Resources and Links

A version of this content originally appeared in Pentecostal Life. To see more content or subscribe, visit https://www.pentecostallife.com/.