JOSHUA 22:9-12: “So the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned and departed from Bnei-Yisrael at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, to the land of their inheritance that they had possessed, according to the mouth of ADONAI by Moses’ hand. Now when they came to the region near the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan—a large, conspicuous altar. Then Bnei-Yisrael heard about it and said: “Behold, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar opposite the land of Canaan, in the region of the Jordan, across from Bnei-Yisrael.” And when Bnei-Yisrael heard of it, the whole congregation of Bnei-Yisrael assembled at Shiloh to go up against them in war.” TLV
ACTS 15:28-31: “It seemed good to the Ruach ha-Kodesh and to us not to place on you any greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. By keeping away from these things, you will do well. Shalom!” So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch; and when they had gathered the whole group together, they delivered the letter. The people read it and rejoiced over its encouragement.” TLV
EPHESIANS 4:1-3: “Therefore I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you were called— with complete humility and gentleness, with patience, putting up with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Ruach in the bond of shalom.” TLV
These three different sections of Scripture remind me of three things:
- How easy it is to misunderstand the motives of others.
- How fragile our Christian unity is.
- How it is only the Holy Spirit who both gives and sustains this precious unity.
The Children of Israel misunderstood the motives of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. They were prepared to rise up and go to war with them. They assumed that they had quickly left the faith and had built a false altar to begin sacrifices on the other side of the Jordan. However, this was not their motive at all. In fact, they built this replica to remind the other 10 tribes that they had an inheritance in Israel and the Tabernacle. In essence, they built it to sustain the unity of the Children of Israel.
How quickly we judge other’s motives and intentions without really knowing their heart.
The early church was in its infancy. It was vulnerable to a split at any moment. The enemy took full opportunity of this situation and stirred up a dissension between the Jewish and Gentile believers. The Jewish believers were wanting to place a yoke of legalism upon the Gentiles that even they could not keep. It threatened the work of the Gospel and the unity of the church. And this did not happen when the church was struggling. This happened when the Gospel message was making great impact and multitudes were being added to the saints.
Our spiritual unity is always at risk, and it is even more at risk when we are experiencing a wonderful move of the Holy Spirit. It is then that the enemy will always try to use one of his key tactics – divide and conquer.
Yet, in all of this we must remember an important truth. Our unity is not preserved or protected by our own wisdom and strength. The Holy Spirit intervened in the growing dissension of the Children of Israel, and again in the rising dispute of the early church. We cannot create unity, we can only maintain the unity that the Spirit of God gives us. And the only way we can do that is to,
- Walk in a manner worthy of our calling,
- Maintain an attitude of humility, gentleness, and patience,
- And in all things choose to LOVE!
The Holy Spirit will always come along side those who are endeavoring to please the Lord, who are walking in humility, gentleness and patience, and who choose to put love for their brothers and sisters before their own needs and opinions. This is how we maintain the unity of the Spirit. This is how the Lord preserved the Children of Israel and the early church.
Ultimately their is only one thing that truly matters. And it is not our opinions, our desires, our our positions. It is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our unity is not based on our full agreement, it is based on our full participation in the family of God by grace through faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
- “There is one body and one Ruach, just as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one immersion; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6 TLV
- “A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard —Aaron’s beard— coming down on the collar of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon, coming down upon the mountains of Zion. For there ADONAI commanded the blessing —life forevermore!” Psalms 133:1-3 TLV
Lord, help Your Church to walk in the unity of Your Spirit!
In Jesus Name!