October 9, 2015

What Does God Say About Unity?

Read related story: “Why Adventists Participate in UN and Ecumenical Meetings”

, director, public affairs and religious liberty department, General Conference

Unity is dear to the heart of God.

The whole plan of salvation demonstrates God’s determination to unite a divided and dispersed family that He created in His image.

Seventh-day Adventists join God in seeking unity.

God is the promoter of cosmic unity. Adventists join God in all that He is doing in the world for its salvation.

God evangelizes, so do Adventists. After all, “Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you’” (Galatians 3:8; NIV).

God is committed to unite the whole world under the lordship of the Savior Jesus Christ. Adventists join God to fulfill His purposes to lift up God the Son so that the world might be saved.

God made known the mystery of His will: It is the unity of the whole. “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 1:10; NIV Faith in Action Study Bible).

The death of Jesus Christ was purposed to gather people into one. “Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’ He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one” (John 11:49-52).

Jesus prayed for unity for the sake of mission, so that the world might believe He said in His priestly prayer in John 17. The Holy Spirit was given to seal the unity in mission.

The apostle Paul clearly envisions the followers of Jesus Christ as a united body. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called … forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:1-6).

Adventists understand their identity, mission, and message as part of the restoration of biblical truths as taught by Jesus and the apostles. Obviously Adventists are not alone among Christian denominations to claim the mission of restoration. As a matter of fact, most denominations justify their existence on the basis of this logic.

But what does Jesus say? The unity that Jesus promoted is predicated upon the participation in the Trinity’s life of love. This unity as revealed in John 17 is multifaceted:

1. It is a unity in the reception of the gift of eternal life, which is to know God, the Father and God the Son (17:3).

2. It is a unity in the truth, which consists in keeping God’s word (17:6, 17).

3. It is also a unity that consists in the awareness of followers of Jesus Christ, of being gifts of God the Father to God the Son. Jesus insists He prays for those who have been given to Him by God the Father (See 17:4, 6, 9).

4. This unity contains an incontrovertible aspect of being kept from the evil one (17:15).

5. It is a unity whereby Christians become people in whom Jesus Christ glorifies Himself (17:10).

6. It is a unity God realizes, in the sense that it is God who keeps believers in Christ in the name of God the Father (17:11).

7. It is a unity that consists in the reception and participation in the joy of Christ (17:13).

8. It is a unity that is inseparable of the fact of being sanctified in the truth, in the word of God (17:17, 19).

9. It is a unity for witnessing to Jesus Christ to give the world an opportunity to believe and know Christ and be saved (17:21).

10. It is a unity characterized by the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit as Christ also specified earlier in John 14.

11. It is a unity that revolves around participation in the glory of Jesus Christ (17:22).

12. The perfection of unity occurs in the love of God: the love from God, the love for God, and the love of God we show to others. The indwelling of God manifests itself in the love, which inhabit the followers of Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ unity consists in the participation in the life, love, truth, and sanctity of God. The unity that Jesus promoted is the most pressing need of the church for the sake of drawing the world back to God in Christ and through His Holy Spirit.

Ganoune Diop, director of the public affairs and religious liberty department at the General Conference, served as the church’s representative to the United Nations for four years.