“And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:17-22 ESV)
Unity. It is an ideal that we all claim to aspire to. It is even embedded in the name of our country – the United States. It is a principle that is embedded into the name of various Christian denominations like the United Methodists. It is an ideal and a virtue that we champion even on our darkest of days. However, all too often, we confuse unity with uniformity.
Uniformity expects compliance into a specific mold, whereas unity accepts and celebrates our different giftings, abilities, and backgrounds for the sake of a common purpose. The apostle and great missionary Paul of Tarsus also expressed this ideal this way: “…if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant that yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV)
Nowhere in Paul’s writing does he ever call for the church to be separated by superficial labels of race, ethnicity, or even denomination. In a scientific sense, the genetic differences between the different ethnic races is so infinitesimally small that it is considered “statistically insignificant.” However, in our selfish humanistic thinking we have put up a dividing wall of hostility between us on the basis of so many different superficial and insignificant levels that we have built our own temple to our humanity instead of growing “into a a holy temple in the Lord”. We have become so focused on “cultural diversity” as a higher ideal that “cultural unity” has taken a back seat by elevating pride in our individual differences.
There is one Holy Spirit that unites us to the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. One. Our purpose in this world is be united in Him to the point that we are not strangers towards one another within the body of Christ. We are all members of His household eating at His table. A household built on the example of the apostles (past) and saints (present) with Christ as the chief cornerstone upon which it is all built. The cornerstone of our devotion to Christ is what builds our structure and joins us together.
As a result, consequently, if we are divided it is because we have built a house that is not built upon the example of the unity of the apostles and saints. We have not grown organically into a holy temple in the Lord because we have trusted in our own wisdom and selfish ambitions rather than lived in humility with one another and submission to Christ first. If we are to ever to know and experience the joy of unity in the body of Christ, we must somehow return to the foundation. We must repent of abandoning our roots and building a house that does not have Christ as the cornerstone upon which everything else is built. It is the cornerstone that gives us our bearings and point of reference. It is the cornerstone that provides our stability and strengthens our resolve. And it is the cornerstone of Christ that is capable of unifying us all into one body, joined by one Spirit, serving one Lord for the advancement of One eternal united Kingdom.