On the one hand, the church is the strongest, most secure, and stable organization there is. This is simply because it is Christ’s and He has promised to build His church, guaranteeing that the very gates of hell will not prevail against it. The church of God will not be destroyed or for that matter diminished in the slightests. On the other hand, however, on the local level, the institution of the church can truly be the most volitile of organizations. Maintaining the “unity of the bond of peace” that Paul talks about takes work – hard work. It does not occur magically and it certainly will not manifest itself incidentally. This is partly because not all who are in the visible church are regenerate (born again/saved) and partly because even those who are filled with the Holy Spirit are still capable of being selfish, easily offended, argumentative, and divisive.

This reality is true within all churches. And as important as it is to maintainthe unity of the bond of peace within an established congregation, it is no more important a commitment than within a new gathering (church). For this reason, we must consider how critical it is for us to be committed first and foremost to unity. Now, to be sure, this is not a unity at all costs. For example, we are not permitted to abandon truth in order to maintain, what is then, a false sense of “unity.” There can be no relational or true spiritual unity together in Christ without firm agreement on, particularly, matters related directly to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! From there, while we may disagree here and there, we are called to a love for God and one another that promotes the unity of the bond of peace!

James, addressing young Christian congregations, deals very directly with how disagreements and a lack of love can so quickly escalate to quarrels and fights…

James 4:1-11– 1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?6 But he gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. 11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

James is coming down pretty hard on these folks. Maybe words like “murder” “enmity” “sinner” all sound a bit unnecessary. But the fact remains, the sin of selfishness or pride is usually far darker than what we usually know. Also, few things are so repeatedly referred to as unity and peace among believers. For example…

  • Acts 2:44 –And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.

  • 1 Corinthians 1:10 –I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. (also Rom. 12:16, Matthew 5:9, Col. 3:14-15)

  • Philippians 2:2 –make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

  • Psalm 133:1–How good and pleasant it iswhen Gods people live together in unity.

And yet, a lack of love manifested in disunity has marred most churches. There was factious fighting in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:11, 2 Cor. 12:20), in Philippi, and now in these congregations to whom James wrote! Don’t misunderstand; there are things worth fighting for. We are to fight the good fight of the Faith (1 Tim. 6:12), we are to fight forthe faith once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3, 3 Jn. 1:4, Gal. 2:14), and we are to fight to Spread the Gospel (Col. 1:29). In fact, its not a question of ifwe fight, but rather for whatwe fight. Notice how Scripture tells us to fight for unity and peace within the church…

  • 2 Cor. 13:11 – Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! STRIVE FOR FULL RESTORATION, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace…

  • Hebrews 12:14 – MAKE EVERY EFFORTto live in peace with everyone…

  • 1 Peter 3:10-11 – For, Whoever would love life

  • and see good days…(11b) must SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. (Ps. 34:14)

  • Ephesians 4:2-3 – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. MAKE EVERY EFFORT to keep the unityof the Spirit through the bond of peace.

The sort of loving unity and peace that Christ calls for in Scripture will NOT happen naturally, or by accident! We must “strive,” “seek,” “pursue, ” “Make every effort” to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace! It is no passive or casual pursuit!  We must be willing to fight for it, because it glorifies God, it is loving our neighbor, and it is a powerful witness to the world!