Even a casual stroll through the pages of the New Testament will reveal God’s desire for unity among His followers. Jesus acknowledged this in a beautiful prayer (John 17). Paul (Ephesians 4.1-6; 1 Corinthians 1.10-13) and Jude (Jude 3) offered similar sentiments. Some of the reasons are likely quite obvious to many, and therefore will not be reiterated here. And truth, by definition, has to foster a sense of unity. But, are there some very practical everyday reasons for God’s desire for unity? I recently learned some interesting facts about the great Redwood forests. Many of you know that these trees can grow to over three hundred feet tall. Were you aware that the root systems of these giants are relatively shallow? Sometimes, the roots may not exceed seven or eight feet in depth. They can grow so tall because the root systems grow out horizontally and actually intertwine with one another. In other words, their growth depends upon support from one another. Is that true for God’s church? There are three areas (discussed here) that are dependent upon support from one another.
We need support for growth. Biblically speaking, individual growth, or maturing, will be tied in some way to an increase in knowledge or understanding of God’s word. For example, Peter wrote, “…desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2.2). There are multiple texts that illustrate the relationship between God’s word and growth. If that is the case, can I not grow by myself? After all, I have a bible. The answer is obvious. Of course you can grow by yourself. But, what is the effect of thirty individuals coming together and sharing their knowledge and study of the Bible. Will you learn things that you likely would not have learned on your own? Again, the answer is obvious. We have the greatest possibility for unity when we support one another in our growth of God’s word.
We need support for safety. It has been said, “There is safety in numbers.” The Bible demonstrates (quite frequently) the danger for Christians. A number of texts illustrate the possibility of one walking away from God (Galatians 5.4; 1 Timothy 4.1; Hebrews 6.4-6; 2 Peter 2.20). Acts 20.17-38 is a good test case. Paul, addressing a group of elders, cautions them about taking heed to the flock (group of Christians) because savage wolves would come in to destroy by speaking false ideas and drawing others away in order to follow them. The dangers are real. God has provided, through the church, a family that can offer protection, encouragement, and safety.
We need support for comfort. Life is real. We suffer hardships. We lose loved ones. Comfort, for most people, is necessary. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1.3-4). This sounds like a good plan for the church today as well.
The Redwoods can only survive by supporting one another. God designed it that way. A church can only survive by supporting one another. God designed it that way.
Lord, help us support one another.