There is a level of unity anticipated in Pauline theology that is unheard of in human society. It is the unity which characterizes our coming relations in heaven. The secret to that unity is oneness and the result is peace. A study of heaven, therefore, must include a study of a united sainthood which should enthuse even the most complacent of believers.
We live in a divided world—a reality that is indisputable—and believers should find this condition painfully unharmonious, even within our own relationships. Families are fractured; political parties explode with opposition and the world seems always on the verge of the next global conflagration.
In contrast, the unity of heaven should be the desire of every child of God. We should begin in this life to allow peace to reign in our hearts.1 The bond of peace, which is the result of christian unity, is Paul’s interpretation of Jesus’s promise that “Peacemakers … shall be called the Children of God.”2
Paul envisioned 7 levels of oneness that characterize a unity that guarantees the bond of peace.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.3
Why shouldn’t God wait until we reach His kingdom to unite us. Why the hurry to provide for us a new life we can and should walk together?4
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?5
The simple answer is to bring us to a unity that empowers our witness to our world. A divided church promotes an ineffective message or no message at all!6
that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.7
The world likes to label us “hypocrites” and, sadly, not without cause. We might imagine—and not without reason—that Satan has attacked the church’s unity by offering us a sense of oneness based only on the inner circle of friends we tend to frequent. One clergyman boasted that his church was united because he booted out all the dissenters. This mindset is all too easy for us to find reasonable but a heavenly unity is discarded in the process. Any child of God is my brother or sister in Christ. Absolutely! Doctrinal differences notwithstanding. Style of worship notwithstanding. Political leanings a none issue. God has no favorites and neither aught we. How sad if we wait until heaven to embrace our brothers and sisters in Christ that were unwelcome in this life in our inner circle of fellowship. The scripture is more emphatic on this point than we tend to think:
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.8 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.9 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.10 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.11 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.12
2 Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
3 Ephesians 4:3-6
4 Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
5 Amos 3:3
6 Interesting: The 7 letters to the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3 do not mention disunity as reason for removing a church’s witness. The Revelation is focused on each individual church rather than collectively on “the Church” as a whole.
7 John 17:21
8 Romans 14:19
9 1 Corinthians 14:33
10 2 Corinthians 13:11
11 Colossians 3:15
12 Hebrews 12:14