Wednesday, April 25, 2012


“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!  It is like fine oil on the head, running down on the beard, running down Aaron's beard onto his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon falling on the mountains of Zion.  For there the Lord has appointed the blessing--life forevermore.” (Psalm 133:1-3 HCSB)

If you knew that you would die tomorrow, what would be on your mind? 

What would you pray about? 

It might vary from person to person—but, one thing I can guarantee—it wouldn’t be something trivial.  You wouldn’t be thinking about what’s for lunch, or the score of the ballgame, or what’s on TV tonight, or the stock market report. 

We do know what Jesus was thinking and praying about. When Jesus stood in the shadow of Calvary, just hours before He would be nailed to a cross—He prayed these words:

“I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You.  Holy Father,
protect them by Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one….

I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message.  May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.

I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one.

I am in them and You are in Me.  May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.”  (John 17:11, 20-23 HCSB, emphasis added)

If this was on the heart of Jesus at a time like that, then it must be a priority and passion for us. 

This is the theme of Christ’s ancestor, David, in Psalm 133.  Much of his early life was filled with strife—difficulty with his brothers, the hatred of Saul, and even civil war with kin killing one another.  The reign of David would be successful only as the nation was brought together.  The sweet singer of Israel knew the importance of harmony in music, and this song underscores that we also need harmony in our relationships—different voices but the same song.

It is a song acknowledging GOD’S DESIRE FOR UNITY.  “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” 

The psalm launches abruptly with an exclamation expressing passion.  This calls attention to something important!  It is meant to express the desire of God for unity. It speaks of, “how good and pleasant it is.”  “How” much indicates the immeasurable value of such unity. 

Consider then that unity is A BLESSED CONDITION.  “How good” it is!  

Unity is good for it is the expression of the One who alone is utter goodness—God Himself.  Within the One Triune God, there are three Persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  There is infinite love, perfect unity, and utter harmony in this relationship.  When we are in unity as God’s people we manifest the glory of God to the world. 

Jesus said that this would be the one identifying mark of the true disciple, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."” (John 13:35 HCSB)

Unity is good for it has the power to make Satan tremble and convince sinners of the reality of our message. Recall the words Jesus prayed in His High Priestly intercession, “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.  May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.” (John 17:21 HCSB).  God blesses His people when our hearts are united!

Unity is a blessed condition and A BEAUTIFUL CLIMATE. “How…pleasant” it is! 

Can you imagine the perfect climate where Adam and Eve were placed?  It was paradise! 

We often are in awe of creation as we gaze on its splendor—yet, this is a creation diminished by the curse of sin! 

What has sin done?  The first consequence was to disrupt the relationship with man and his Maker.  Then, it brought division in the relationship of fellow humans.  Yet, Jesus came to reconcile us to God and to one another.  He was accursed that He might reverse the curse. 

The ultimate fulfillment of this reconciliation will be heaven—that place of breath-taking beauty.  But until then, God is at work carving out a bit of heaven from the wilderness of this world—and that is what people should find when they enter the doors of the church building! 

If your desire is not that of God’s, then you need to repent—turn from your self-centeredness to God and seek unity!  Pray for hearts united!

David sings of God’s desire for unity, but also of GOD’S DESIGN FOR UNITY, “when brothers live together in harmony!”  (v.1b HCSB) 

So, what is unity, anyway? 

Maybe, it will be easier to understand, if we first see what it is not. 

It is not COMPROMISE.  There is a false unity that says that it doesn’t matter what you believe or how you behave—just love one another.  It has one great virtue: tolerance.  In the same chapter where Jesus prayed for unity, He also prayed that we would be sanctified by the truth of God’s Word and kept pure from a sinful world—so obviously unity isn’t at the sacrifice of conviction. 

Neither is it CLONING. Unity isn’t uniformity.  Some churches try to impose rules and make everyone conform to a certain way of looking and conduct—never questioning anything, but just jumping in line and saluting.  But the church isn’t an organization—it’s an organism—we’re different parts!  There is room for debate and discussion, so long as we do so in love. Paul shows us what biblical unity is all about when he exhorts,

“Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds [us]. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope at your calling--one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6 HCSB)

David tells us that unity is about A FAMILY for we are “brothers.” We all have the same Father.  We are all in the family by virtue of our second, spiritual birth.  A family should be marked by love, support, kindness, forgiveness and respect.  Within a family, there is room for young and old.  How can we become divided among colors, classes, gender and generations? Surely this is wicked!

David also points to unity as A FOCUS on how we “live” This is a word of abiding—of constancy.  It is not for a moment—but our persistent focus.  Look again at Paul’s emphasis we just read, “diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit.  You have to work at unity!

David relates that unity is about A FELLOWSHIP “together.”

The first Christians were marked by their fellowship. 

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.  Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common.  They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need.  Every day they devoted themselves [to meeting] together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.”  (Acts 2:42-47 HCSB, emphasis added)

They were together in the Apostle’s doctrine—they shared fundamental beliefs.  They were together in worship—it was a corporate expression.  Today we have worship wars!  We divide ourselves over styles of music.  What a contradiction to our claims and the character of Christ! They were together in purpose—the Great Commission.  They were together in prayer.  They were together in sharing their possessions.  The results were exactly what Jesus promised—sinners believed in Him and were converted!

David doesn’t stop with God’s desire for unity and His design for unity, but also unpacks GOD’S DESCRIPTION OF UNITY in verses two and three.

He tells us that unity is LIKE ANOINTING OIL: FRAGRANT.  It is like fine oil on the head, running down on the beard, running down Aaron's beard onto his robes. (v.2). 

A fragrant oil was made of myrrh, cinnamon, sweet calamus and cassia blended together in olive oil.  We read that when Aaron was installed as High Priest, he was anointed with it, as the oil generously flowed down his beard and dripped onto his robes.  The delightful fragrance was pervasive!

Unity is like that—you can smell its sweetness.  Frankly, some churches stink.  When the decay and dissolution of a dead body comes, there is an awful odor.  Sadly, this is the aroma of some churches.  Are people attracted or repulsed by us?

Then unity is also LIKE MORNING DEW: FRUITFUL.  It is like the dew of Hermon falling on the mountains of Zion.  For there the Lord has appointed the blessing--life forevermore.” (v.3).

In that arid climate, there were only a couple of brief rainy seasons in spring and fall.  Gardens would burn up in summer, had it not been for the ample dew. 

Don’t forget that dew comes in stillness not storms.  Where there is the thunder of conflict there will be no dew.  Where there is the quiet of peace the dew appears.  It distills when atmospheric conditions are right. Thus, a fruitful church requires 3 things: love for the Lord, for each other, and for the lost.  These are the conditions God intends for His church.

Would you unite your heart with the heart of God and have a passion for unity?  Would you unite your heart with the heart of Christ and offer a prayer for unity?  Would you unite your heart with the Spirit and join God’s people in unity?

If we do—God will give us irresistible impact in the world!

No comments: