I can’t think of any single heavenly characteristic more important to strive after than the peacefulness, serenity, and tranquility that exists in Heaven because of perfect unity. I know this exists because God is a God of order and in a perfect place such as Heaven, chaos will not reign supreme, nor exist at all. Here on Earth, there is chaos all around us because of disunity, and unfortunately, there is chaos to some extent in all of our homes. We need to focus on learning what we can add to our homes to combat that chaos that arises out of disunity. Namely, the two things we must strive for to get the peace and serenity to reign in our homes are fellowship, and love.
Like everything else in Heaven, unity is Heaven is in its perfect form, so it is our responsibility to learn all we can about fellowship and love in order that we may promote the highest level of unity within our families. Why do we need to strive for unity? In Psalm 133, God says it’s good for saints to dwell in unity (vs. 1), that unity is precious (vs. 2), and that unity is something that refreshes and invigorates (vs. 3). In Ephesians 4, God expects unity among the saints because we are all of one Spirit (Ephesians 4:3), and we are all united in faith (Ephesians 4:13). In Acts 1:14 and Acts 12:12, we should be united in prayer. We should even be exercising unity in our worship (Acts 4:24).
On the night Christ was betrayed, He was in the Garden of Gethsemanie and was earnestly praying for His disciples. If you study out the true “Lord’s Prayer” in John 17, you’ll see Christ’s prayer for His disciples focused on three things. One of the things Christ focused on was unity between His disciples. In John 17:11, Christ reveals the standard to which we are to strive to have unity between the saints, and that is that Christ and God are one. In John 17:21, Christ prayed for His disciples to be one, as Christ and the Father are one, emphasizing that it is possible to dwell in unity with each other here on Earth, and He basically prayed for that again in verse 22. The greatest verse is John 17:23 that speaks to Christ’s desire for unity among the saints, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” The triune God dwelling in unity lacks nothing. If we dwell amongst ourselves in complete unity, we will be lacking nothing, for all the members of the body will be working together. Each of us lovingly working together to use each others’ strengths to cover each others’ weaknesses, all the while each of us using our individual spiritual gifts and talents as God wills it for us in our churches and homes. That’s what that word perfect means. It means to be complete and lacking nothing.
Is there peace in your home? If not, it’s because you lack unity on some level. Would God say your home was a good place to dwell? If not, it’s because you lack unity on some level. Is your home a place that you can rest at the end of the day and refresh your physical body while your emotional and spiritual side can be invigorated and revived? If not, it’s because you lack unity on some level. There are two things that promote unity which, more than likely, are lacking in your home as well. These two things, as mentioned earlier, are love and fellowship.
Love helps to promote unity. Love is what allows us to put others first. We are commanded by God to love others (1st John 4:11) and put their needs above and beyond our needs (Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3). If you love each other, you’ll be willing to teach others, and according to Colossians 3:16, this desire to teach others should be reciprocal and the whole body (unity) will be the better for it. In 1st Corinthians 14:26, the same sentiment is stated, that we can’t all be looking out for ourselves in spiritual matters, but that all should be done to edify each other. In your home, if you’re the spiritual leader, are you willing to put others first and teach them and edify them that they may grow and be who they need to be in God’s eyes? Maybe you’re just looking out for yourself and concentrating on your spiritual state while everyone else in the family stays static in their level of spirituality. Promoting unity can’t be about us, but about others, and teaching them is one way to show your love for them. Teaching each other is one way God intends for us to grow in all aspects (2nd Timothy 2:2).
If we love others and are willing to put them ahead of ourselves for their own good and for the promotion of unity, we must not only be willing to teach, but also to give. In Isaiah 58:6-8, God asked Israel to fast. This fast was intended to be one that allowed the Israelites to give of themselves in helping others in need (oppressed, impoverished, hungry, homeless, orphaned, etc). Then, in verse eight, God promises to bring brighter days and shine on all their ways. If the Israelites were willing to fast and give of themselves to help others in need, God was going to bless them. So let’s allow God to bless our homes by starting to give of ourselves to satisfy each other’s needs. That promise of blessing when we help others’ in need is echoed again in Deuteronomy 15:10. We should extend hospitality to each other without grumbling about it (1st Peter 4:9). The church in Acts 2:44-45 displayed great unity by being “together…having all things common” and sold off their possessions, shared with each other, and leveled the playing field amongst themselves (also seen in Romans 12:13). Giving doesn’t come easy, especially when God asks us to give of what we ourselves have accomplished through our own labor (Ephesians 4:28; Acts 20:35). The Lord told us it is more blessed to give than to receive…so how exactly are we to give to our family to promote unity?
If we’re willing to give, then we can claim to love others, and demonstrate that love by being generous. If we are not willing to give, then that puts our love for others in question, and demonstrates a level of selfishness within us. And if we’re selfish, that makes us put OUR needs ahead of the needs of others. That can, in no way, promote unity. It’s impossible. More than money and material goods, your family needs you to give of yourself. Husband…if you’ve worked all day and your wife is a stay-at-home mom, no matter what you did, she did more that day. When you’re tired and just want to rest, lighten her load. Cook dinner that night (or order out). Do the dishes. Tell her to call a friend and go out so she can have some “mommy free time.” If your children eagerly await your arrival home from work and they meet you at the door and hug you before you even close the door, don’t brush them off quickly to head to your chair in front of the TV. Your children may not understand that you’re tired, but they will feel brushed aside and not as important to you as the TV appears to be. Nope…give, give, give! You’re no better than your spouse or children, so level the playing field by putting selfish desires aside and sharing yourself with others in the family.
There are nineteen verses in the New Testament that speak directly to the command to “love one another.” That command to love one another speaks to the second thing that will help promote unity, and that is fellowship. Fellowship, in its simplest definition is a friendship between people that share similar interests and feelings. You would figure it should be easy to love those who are likeminded. It should be easy to be friends with those who share the same interests and feelings and beliefs as you. Yet, it’s not always that way in the church. And seeing as how the church and the family are mirror images of each other in terms of God establishing both institutions and setting up a governing body in each that is similar to the other, disunity that can arise from lack of true fellowship can be found in the home as well. In Philippians 4:21-23, we find that fellowship is for every saint, and a saint is one who is born of God. Only true Christians can enjoy true fellowship in the strictest biblical sense of the word (1st John 1:3, 7). And in verse twenty-three of Philippians 4, we see that fellowship is to be reciprocal, as we are commanded to greet and be greeted. In one of the most unified moments in the church’s history, all the saints were in one place, enjoying, among other things, fellowship (Acts 2:42).
It is obviously hard to have true biblical fellowship if not everyone in your family is a Christian. But the Bible doesn’t give us liberty not to love them and cast them aside. If unsaved spouses are content to live with their saved spouses, God allows for such a union to continue (1st Corinthians 7:12-13), in the foreknowledge that these “mixed marriages” have a good chance of becoming a marriage where both husband and wife are saved (1st Corinthians 7:16). Also, it’s God’s desire that even if the parents are unequally yoked, staying together increases the likelihood of the children becoming Christians as they mature (1st Corinthians 7:14). Certainly it is possible to “stick it out,” which may eventually lead to the entire family being able to enjoy true biblical fellowship.
As for fellowship in the complete Christian home, there needs to be an assessment done to determine what is breaking the fellowship, thus breaking the unity. Remember, Amos 3:3 asks, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Here we see the direct connection between fellowship (being in agreement; likeminded) and unity (walking together). Start with speaking with your spouse about parenting issues, discipline issues, money issues, or moral issues, see the pattern? The children in the home can’t follow two leaders or else the whole house will be divided. If the parents get together on the issues, and lead as one, the children will follow both mom and dad because they are both leading as one. This will go a long way in promoting fellowship between spouses and children, thus promoting unity within the home, and much less strife and more peace, harmony, and tranquility. But beware of the things that will kill unity!
Jealousy in the home will kill unity. God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11). Parents CAN NOT play favorites between their children. It didn’t work out well for Isaac and Rebecca when they each played favorites with their two children, Jacob and Esau. Amazingly enough, Jacob did the same thing with his son Joseph while disenfranchising his other eleven sons. That put the brothers at odds against Joseph and led them to plot to kill him, ultimately choosing to sell him into slavery instead. Isaac and Rebecca weren’t united in loving their children equally, so it is possible for today’s Christian parents to secretly prefer one child over another because of the talents of one child over the other, or the difference in level of difficulty in raising a strong willed child over their very passive sibling. DO NOT play favorites.
Backbiting will kill unity. Just ask David in Psalm 55:14, when he speaks of walking in the courts of the temple with his trusted friend: “We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.” But he was betrayed by this trusted friend (Psalm 55:13). Don’t speak ill of anyone in your family to anyone, as it may come back to them and the damage to the peace and serenity that comes with unity will be shattered. Don’t betray the trust your spouse or children have in you.
Censoriousness is a word that means to be hypercritical. If your spouse and children are doing the best they can, and you are showing love to them by teaching them and edifying them and helping them, don’t be critical. Moses was charged by God to lead the Israelites in the wilderness en route to the Promised Land. His brother Aaron and sister Miriam were jealous of the fact that Moses was the leader, and wanted to share in that leadership. They began speaking against Moses (Numbers 12:1-2) and the things he had done (namely marrying an Ethiopian woman). This eventually led to other people disputing Moses’ God-given authority, such as the rest of his family, and the other leaders, and eventually the whole congregation. Don’t be critical of the job your spouse is doing, and don’t be jealous of the role God has given them, if it’s not as “glamorous” as the role God has given you. There’s a hierarchy in the leadership of the home with differing roles. Embrace those roles and keep quiet.
Do you want the heavenly characteristic of unity in your family? Do you want the peace, serenity, and tranquility that come with unity? Do you want your home to be a place where you can rest and God can revive you spiritually? Then love your family. Give yourself to your family by taking time to teach and train them (especially your children). Take the time to be kind to them. Let them know they come before you, so that one day they can do the same in their minds, and give back to you. Foster in your family an environment that develops and maintains fellowship. But be very vigilant to quell negative emotions like jealousy, backbiting, being critical, and playing favorites.
Like I said at the beginning of this lesson…I can’t think of any one blessing more important to have in my home than to have the heavenly characteristic of true unity amongst my family. Unity is all wrapped around putting others first, and if we ALL did that, then we would ALL get our needs filled by each other, and ALL of us would be blessed by God for giving. If we ALL had that in mind, we would ALL be in complete fellowship with each other. So if we could just get a taste of that unity, we would ALL work together to keep it. Unity has the ability to give life to a family that was dead, and that same unity will help to sustain the life of that dead family. What a wonderful thing unity is!!!