Christianity today is very different from what the biblical record shows the early church to have been like. One cannot read the biblical record of the beginnings of the church without being struck by the sense of unity they enjoyed. They were a group of people with a single vision. They had met the long awaited Savior and were anxious to tell the world about Him.
Many Bible verses speak of the early believer’s united sense of community. In Acts for instance we read:
“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44 NKJV)
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul;” (Acts 4:32 NKJV)
These speak of a sense of a common goal, a common organizing of priorities, and an agreement about what is important and what is not. These believers were one in purpose and community. When your heart and soul are united, your relationship falls into place. There is no hint of the divisiveness between denominations, and even among churches within the same denomination, we see today.
Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus, around A.D. 61, almost three decades after the cross, affirmed the unity of the church:
”There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all…” (Ephesians 4:4-6 NKJV)
It is impossible to read that verse and not see that the early believers were one in thought and action. All else paled in importance to the single-minded urgency of spreading the Gospel.
We should not be surprised that the church acted in such a manner. Jesus himself gave them the example to follow and spoke these words in a prayer to God for his disciples and all those who would believe after them:
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23 NKJV)
Do you see the importance of what Jesus said here regarding how Christians are to relate to one another? Not only are we to be one with God and Christ, but we are to be united in the same way to each other. We are to be one with other Christians. Jesus also says that the result of this unity would be that the unbelieving world would know and believe that God sent Jesus. Conversely, if Christians argue and bicker among themselves, the unbelieving world will NOT believe that God sent Jesus. This verse says that the destiny of many souls depends on how believers treat each other. This is a sobering responsibility.