By Rick Warren
If you want to know what matters most to someone, listen to their last words.
Jesus shared his most intimate words in the upper room discourse in John 13-17. Those five chapters are packed with powerful spiritual truths. Two in particular stand out: How much God loves us and how we should love one another.
Over and over, Jesus comes back to these truths and ties them together. He says, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you” (John 15:12 NLT). And as he prepared to die, his primary concern was that his followers would be unified.
The following 12 statements, made by Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament writers, summarize the Bible’s message about unity.
- Unity proves we’re saved (John 13:34-35).
You don’t prove your salvation by having a Christian bumper sticker on your car. You prove it by how you love other believers.
- The Trinity is our model for unity (John 17:11).
The Bible tells us that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in perfect harmony with one another. They are three in one and provide a picture of our unity as Christians.
- Jesus’ last prayer is that we’d live in unity (John 17:21).
Jesus’ vision is that anyone who claims the name of Christ should have unity with other believers. In fact, John 17:21 tells us that our unity will lead to others placing their trust in Jesus.
- God gives us his glory, so we’ll be unified (John 17:22).
The purpose of God’s presence in your life isn’t to make you more opinionated and stubborn. It’s to make you more loving. For the sake of unity, he gives his power and presence to anyone who lays aside secondary differences with other believers.
- Our unity is our greatest witness to unbelievers (John 17:23).
The world won’t be won until Christians are one. If unbelievers like what they see in us, they will listen to what we say.
- Unity removes fear and creates boldness (Acts 4:31).
A unified church gives all of us more power and courage. Division creates fear, but unity removes it.
- When a church is truly unified, everybody’s needs are met (Acts 4:32).
The early church proved that when all believers are “united in heart and mind” (Acts 4:32 NLT), people share what they have with others—and needs are met.
- Baptism and communion are visible signs of unity (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 10:16-17).
Both baptism and communion are visual representations of the truth that we not only belong to Jesus but to one another as well. When we’re baptized, we’re laying aside our differences of race, nationality, and background to accept our common identity in Christ. Our unity is so important to the Lord’s Supper that the Bible tells us not to partake of it if we’re not unified.
- Focusing on our common purpose creates unity (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Paul urges Christians not to be program-driven, pressure-driven, power-driven, pleasure-driven, or politically driven. Instead, he tells us to be purpose-driven. We’re more united when we work together for a common purpose.
- Unity begins when we realize we’re incomplete without each other (1 Corinthians 12:26-27).
God wired us to need each other. No one has all the skills and talents. He uniquely shaped us to make a contribution in this world. Unity begins when we realize we’re incomplete on our own.
- Jesus died to unite us, not divide us (Ephesians 2:16).
You won’t find a place for bigotry or preferred treatment at the foot of the cross. When Jesus reconciled us, he brought us all together, ending our hostility toward one another.
- Jesus expects me to work hard at unifying Christians (Ephesians 4:3).
God’s Word directly tells us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3 NIV). One day we’ll stand before God, and he’ll ask us if we made “every effort” to unite with other believers.
I’m heartbroken that Christians aren’t typically known for their love for one another. If you took a survey and asked 1,000 people, “What comes to mind when someone mentions a born-again Christian?” few would say “their love for one another.”
But that’s what Jesus wants us to be known for. It’s what he prayed for as he prepared to die on the cross for us.
If it was so important to Jesus, I think it should be important to us