In a divisive world, it’s important to remember that division is the enemy’s plan, not God’s.

Divisiveness is more than having a different opinion; it’s what happens when the focus is being right, and the certainty of our position is solidified to the point that any other position is a danger that cannot be allowed. {NOTE: Your mind and body can register perceived threats and danger even when it is not present.}

Our bodies and minds may react with defensiveness, pride, accusation, and condemnation when we feel threatened without realizing it (for several reasons that I don’t have room to dive into in this article). Pride and self-protection can move us into alignment with the enemy over the spirit of God.

We can hold different opinions and stand confident in them without being divisive.

However, the path to being able to do so may require more than prayer. Your experiences may have shaped a nervous system response, making it more difficult to live well the way you want. Change is more than possible, and it occurs through relational experiences with God and others that help reshape and rewire what got off-kilter. Sadly, pride and “rightness” fuel divisiveness and block our heart’s receptivity to receiving what we need.

Throughout scripture, God reveals his design for relationships and relational connection. In relationships and how we engage with one another, we can experience more of who God is and all God has for us. We are created after the image of a God whose nature is relational. Designed to need God and others.

A critical element in developing healthy relational connections with others is the ability to be self-aware, vulnerable, authentic, and empathically aware of others. Pride keeps us focused on ourselves without consideration for how others came to the opinions they hold, why they think the way they do, or what their experiences are and have been.

Divisive opinions reveal the stubbornness and pride of our hearts more than the wrongness of someone else’s. Our staunch stances also reveal our fears of getting it wrong, being wrong, and somehow not being accepted as right enough. Instead of staying firm in rightness, God draws us near to his heart and into unity, centered on who God is and God’s design for us.

It is critical we recognize we are not expected to have the same opinions. We are not given the same set of gifts and desires. No two people have the same set of strengths and weaknesses or the same way of expressing them. Also, because of individual temperaments, even people who experience the same events will have different reactions.

We are called to unity in the body of Christ.

Unity in scripture is not equated to being the same person.

This may seem like an odd statement because logically we know we are not the same as anyone else. However, we can feel threatened by the differences in others when our nervous system, heart, and mind are not settled in calm with who we are, apart from others. Soul-deep, emobodied knowing we are accepted and loved do not come through mere words or logic.

With the help of OpenBible.info, I pulled together a list of scriptures that help us see God’s heart for unity. I’ve take some of the suggestions and expanded on them for more context.

Toward the end of the post, you’ll find questions for personal reflection. Each verse could use further study, especially since they are single scriptures that are not in context.

I’ve added my thoughts below each verse as a reflection. As I review God’s heart for unity in the context of all scripture and how God operates, I see a good God who cares how we treat one another. God’s call for unity is not a call for becoming like one another but an invitation to live together because we our hearts are changed by God.

Our minds, bodies, and nervous systems can also be changed through God’s method of healing so we are better able to experience God’s heart for unity.

Unity in the Mind of Christ – Resting in What God Knows as Good

1 Corinthians 1:10

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

REFLECTION: The divisions mentioned here are not the same thing as having different opinions. They speak of factions in the church based on doctrinal stances decided on by leaders. Divisions increase when people focus on who’s right and who’s wrong. There is little room for connection to God, and faith is stifled when we lean on what we understand to be right over God’s heart for each of us.

Romans 15:5-6

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:8

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

Philippians 2:2

Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

REFLECTION: One mind in Christ includes seeing others with the kindness and compassion God has for them. Again, it is not equal to agreement. We are not called to have the same thoughts, beliefs, and opinions as another person. We are called to receive from God and operate from a place of receiving from God.

Unity Through Love – We Give From What We’re Given

Colossians 3:12-14

 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

REFLECTION: When we disagree with others, we can learn how to tolerate their different opinions and bear with each other. When we care for another (without carrying for them) we help them carry burdens that are too heavy to bear alone. Our experiences influence our opinions.

You never know when someone’s reason for pushing an opinion that’s different from yours is the result of a myriad of life experiences that have shaped their beliefs. Some of those experiences have been heavy burdens they’ve dealt with for a long time. When we come alongside with compassion, kindness, humility (rather than rigidity and assuming rightness), then we bind hearts together in unity through the love of God.

2 Corinthians 13:11

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Unity in Marriage

Genesis 2:24

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

REFLECTION: In this sense, unity brings a man and woman together. They are joined as a unit, and still, each remains their own person.  Their unique attributes are not reduced. Individually, they benefit from the gift of God’s design for unity, which includes treating each other with kindness, compassion, gentleness, and humility.

 

Unity in Community

Psalm 133:1

How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!

Ephesians 4:1-6

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

REFLECTION: Through the work of God’s Spirit in us, we can receive courage and discernment for navigating relationships with a spirit of unity. However, our experiences shape our ability to live well as the person God designed which may lead to reactive anger that attacks another in conversation, demands, walking away, or shutting down and refusing to engage further. When we are strengthened to live more fully ALIVE as the person God sees in us, we also live from a loved position that feels secure. Other people’s opinions no longer serve as a threat to who we are or our standing as a loved and accepted person.

Therapy modalities that help rewire the nervous system and our ability to receive from God and others include; EMDR, somatic work, EFIT/EFT (Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy or Emotionally Focused Therapy (for couples)), and other modalities incorporating attachment work.

Unity Builds the Body of Believers

Romans 12:4-5

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

REFLECTION: These verses are in my list of favorites. We are not the same as each other but uniquely and individually created. Each of us reflects parts of God’s design, and together, we see more of the fullness of God. Differing views and differing strengths are indicative of our different designs. Reactivity in the face of differences is fuel for divisiveness.

Romans 12:16

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 

Ephesians 4:11-13

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:14-16

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Unity through the Spirit of Christ

Philippians 1:27

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel

Romans 14:19

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

 

Unity Reveals Christ to the World

Acts 4:32

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

John 17:20-24

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Galatians 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

John 17:11

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one

Romans 15:5-7

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 

Ephesians 1:7-10

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

Ephesians 4:1-6

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

2 Chronicles 30:12

Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:24b-26

But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

1 Corinthians 12:14

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.


Reflection Questions on Unity in the Body of Christ

There’s a lot in these verses, and reading them in context gives us much more to consider. Use the following questions to explore the scriptures further for yourself.

To take it even further, notice what happens in your body, what thoughts you have, and what feelings surface as you explore each verse in the context it was written in, in the context of all of scripture, and in context with a current or recent experience of division in the church.

I love using blueletterbible.org to further research words, context, and original meaning. If you haven’t used it before, it’s a free resource online with a free app for mobile device use.

Which verse, or words within a verse, stand out to you? Why?

What do you notice in your body, mind, and heart as you read the scriptures in context?

How do these verses encourage or challenge you?

Pause and ask the Spirit to reveal what God wants you to know or experience as you review these verses and concepts.

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