Jesus did not come to build walls and construct barriers; He came to tear them down. He did not come to exclude, but to include. The way He lived and the way He died proclaim the purpose for which He came. He broke with traditions by being a friend to sinners. He broke racial barriers by going through Samaria. Jesus did not seem to be bothered by the criticism of the religious leaders, because He came to the world on a mission and that mission was to unify people with God and with each other.
The foremost purpose in His mind was expressed in John 17:21–23. “That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou has sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; that the world may know that thou has sent me, and hast loved them, as thou has loved me.”
In Christ, the lines of demarcation which had separated people—Jews from Greeks, bond from free, male from female —were destroyed in His death. The very moment He died, the temple curtain separating the common people from the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom. This was a divine act of God. It was no ordinary blood that stained the old rugged cross; it was divine blood. It was not shed in Jerusalem but outside the gate. Jesus did not die for the Jewish nation only. The High Priest had prophesied in John11:51, 52 that “Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that was scattered abroad.” Here again is the purpose of His death: to bring together in one all people.
There were several facts concerning the death of Jesus outside the gate that were more than coincidence and more than mere customs among the Israelites. He was the true, atoning sacrifice for all men regardless of race or nationality. Note that Christ was stripped of the clothing that would have localized Him or given identification with a certain people group. Even the inscription on the cross proclaimed His kingship in the languages of all three major civilizations of that time: Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Christ’s death outside the gate brought the Throne of Grace near to all men.
It is obvious from His life, ministry, and death that Jesus came to bring unity among believers. The subject of unity cannot be put on the back burner and hope that it will be accomplished someday but it is an issue that requires our utmost attention now. The world cannot be won until the church is one. We struggle with Christian unity today because we don’t know what to do with honest differences. Perhaps if we could understand unity, we could do more about achieving it.
You cannot tune 20 pianos by comparing one piano with another but they all must be tuned with a tuning fork. When each is in tune with the standard pitch, they will all be in tune with each other. Trying to tune divergent Christians to each other is a hopeless business. Only when we are each completely in tune with Christ will we be in tune with each other.
Unity is a person and that person is Jesus. We love each other because we all love Him. Love for Christ is the key to unity. He is mine and I am His. When we love Jesus more than anything else, including ourselves, we will stay united.
Christ’s love is big enough and pure enough and strong enough to transcend all the petty differences we may have. Unity is not the beginning but the end. It is the mature product. And it is a gift from God. We must treasure and keep it.
For more information on UNITED, the 99th International Assembly of the Church of God of Prophecy, visit the official website.
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