and after paul and barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, paul and barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. [acts 15:2]


seeking unity in the body is crucial to the spread of the gospel. in this case, the unity these brothers are seeking is actually over the definition of the gospel! to answer the question of whether the blood of Christ is sufficient for salvation, or if external signs are required like circumcision or other aspects of the mosaic law. this was not a debate in which they could just agree to disagree. the whole church needed to be unified on this point. if there is no gospel, there is no church. to unite over any other thing is to be a club, not a church.


these men were so determined to find unity in this crucial matter that they traveled to jerusalem, not just to seek the wisdom of the apostles and elders, but to give testimony of how the Spirit was already uniting so many in the blood of Christ. they desired to worship as one, to teach as one, to minister as one!


do you eagerly seek unity in the body like this? paul later urges unity in this way:


i therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. there is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [eph 4:1-6]


no matter what our other differences are, we can seek unity in Christ.


for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. there is neither jew nor greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [gal 3:26-28]


this unity is not just paul’s idea. it is the desire of Jesus himself, as he expresses in his great high priestly prayer.


i do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and i in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. the glory that you have given me i have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, i in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. [john 17:20-23]


perfectly one for the sake of the gospel! crucial for the furthering of his kingdom! 


today, before the God of peace who made you one with himself through his Son, ask him for unity in the body. search your heart and see if there are any areas or people with whom you are struggling for unity. ask for an eagerness to lay aside differences for the sake of the gospel, and ask for the truth of the gospel to bring strong bonds of love with your brothers and sisters in Christ. he is worthy of our unity!


~arwen eastman