Unity within the church is beautiful. It is something which can take my breath away. To observe a group of Jesus followers coming together in harmony, followers of different ethnicities, nationalities, races, ages, roles, positions, and genders. Coming together in boldness and authenticity of who God created them to be. Coming together genuinely valuing their differences and similarities. Coming together in oneness. Coming together in unity.
During the last year God has brought me on a journey of deeper revelation of His heart throughout scripture for ethnic and racial healing and unity. God has especially opened my eyes to see the consistent theme of unity in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Revealing to us the beauty and power of Biblical unity during ethnic and racial differences and division.
- In Genesis we see the bold promise, that is fulfilled through Jesus, that God gives to Abraham. In Genesis 17:5 (NIV) it says: “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.”
- In Psalms we see celebrations and the coming together of different nations in worship. For example, Psalm 86:9 (NIV) says: “All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.”
- In Isaiah we see God’s heart for unity among people of various backgrounds. For example, in Isaiah 56:6 & 7(NIV) it says: “And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord … For my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
- In Galatians we see Paul emphasizing equality and unity among the New Testament church, regardless of their cultural or societal distinctions. For example, Galatians 3:26 & 28 says: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
- In Acts Peter realizes that God shows no partiality, and that people from all nations are God’s beloved. This realization is a bridge to an increase in unity. In Acts 10:34-35 (NIV) it says: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”
These verses and many others have opened my eyes to see the deep passionate heart of a Father. Our Father, who equally values all His children, of every race and every ethnicity. Our Father who longs for us to see each other the way He sees us. Our Father whose divine design has always been that we get along.
The type of getting along that stirs us to do better at loving those who are like us and those who are different from us. Love that is radical. Love that goes against the status quo. Love that doesn’t care about being Pinterest worthy. Love that doesn’t care about cancel culture. Love that is counter cultural. Love that colors outside the line. Love that is a market takeover of unity. Love that is rooted in the Biblical description of Unity.
The type of Biblical unity that shows the world. Whose we are. Whose we all are.
This past month at Hillsong Conference we got to bear witness to unity on display. It was beautiful. We were also reminded about unity from our Global Lead Pastor. Pastor Phil reminded us to be about:
- the type of unity that prioritizes the collective good of a community over our own benefits
- the type of unity where Jesus is central
- the type of unity that is radical in the polarized culture we live in
- the type of unity that “chooses unity over ourselves”
To end, I want to highlight one of my favorite verses that demonstrates the beauty of unity. It is found in Revelation 7:9-10 – where we get a picture of a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne of God, praising God in unity.
These verses show us that unity can be a powerful force. Of strength and peace, and a radical witness to the world. Testifying of God’s love, while breaking down the barriers that may divide us. Our prayer is that the unity the Bible speaks of spurs us all on towards making the changes that are still needed in our world.
Hillsong Global Ethnic and Racial Healing and Unity, RDEI Manager
Maria Hansen-Quine, LASW, MSW