By Rev. Brent Coltharp
The theme of this month’s issue of the Illinois District News is unity and brotherhood. Unity is a Biblical principle which the future of the kingdom of God, the United Pentecostal Church International, the Illinois District and the local church, rests upon. The Psalmist states, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalms 133:1 – NKJV). In light of the aforementioned principle, our fundamental doctrine includes the following paragraph in our manual: “We shall endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit until we all come into the unity of the faith, at the same time admonishing all brethren that they shall not contend for their different views to the disunity of the body (p.30).”
Unity is a state of oneness, of harmony or agreement. Unity does not deny individuality, understanding that we are each fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14). When unity and brotherhood are taught, the underlying message is not that we should be identical in every way, which would be to deny our creative design. Likewise, the goal is not dependence, unable to function without a specific directive from someone else. The goal is healthy interdependence – we are different, yet we need one another and should be in harmony when it comes to the essentials as outlined by the Word of God (Ephesians 2:20).
A traditional piano is designed with eighty-eight individual notes, each note having its own distinct and unique sound. A chord is when three or more notes are sounded together, creating harmony, which is a pleasing sound or experience due to their agreement. Similarly, when a note is played that disrupts harmony, it is typically quite evident, and even the least musically inclined tend to wince with displeasure.
As the body of Christ, as well as the membership of the UPCI, we recognize that if we contend for our differences, the end result is disunity. In our current culture, everyone is encouraged to focus on their differences – what separates and distinguishes them from others, whether it be culture, politics, or numerous other preferences. The result is a divided nation, rather than the indivisible one envisioned by the founding fathers. No wonder there is power in unity and the presence of God is evident where two or three are gathered together in His name (Matthew 18:20).
We each have a responsibility to work together in order to keep the unity of the Spirit. Apostolic Pentecostals must never lose sight that not only is unity good and pleasant, it is essential in order to fulfill our purpose of taking the whole gospel to the whole world by the whole church. If the Lord can testify that “nothing they propose to do will be withheld them,” as a group pursued a carnal goal, how much more the people of the name who are pursuing the glory of God. Let us actively embrace the mission of keeping the unity of the Spirit, not contending for our different views to the disunity of the body and see what God will do.
The above article, “Unity and Brotherhood,” is written by Rev. Brent Coltharp. The article was excerpted from the Illinois District News.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.