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The Importance of Unity
By Cal Fullerton, August 2010
How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity!
- Psalm 133:1
I firmly believe that God grieves over the divisions among those who have
chosen to make Jesus Christ their Lord. That belief is based on the fact
that he sometimes allows me to feel a little of his grief. God is calling us
all to play our unique role in bringing about unity in the body of Christ.
Currently, an increase of harmony is needed on many levels:
- Within marriages
- Within fellowship groups
- Within local churches
- Between local churches
- Between ethnic groups (Martin Luther King’s specialty)
- Between rich and poor (Mother Teresa’s specialty)
- Between denominations and movements
This article focuses on the importance of dissolving divisions between
denominations and movements. As we learn how to increase cooperation
between denominations, we’ll automatically make progress on the smaller
end of the scale as well. After all, big barriers come down one relationship
at a time.
Prophetic Christian leader Rick Joyner received a vision from God whereby
he was shown that “the church is doing much more damage to herself
through infighting than the enemies without are able to do.” (1)
Historian Robert M. Utley tells us that in the American West of the 1800s
the Indian warrior was “in every feature of individual combat ability . . .
far superior to his white counterpart.” However, the natives lacked
effectiveness in battle because each Indian was usually “an
individualist—every man for himself. They did what they pleased without
the orders of anyone. If he followed a leader, it was someone he
respected because he wanted to. Indian warfare [was] just a great
chaos of individual encounters with no overall control or command by
In contrast, the white men were following the orders of a unifying leader.
They won the West.
Unity Attracts the Lost
Interdenominational fellowship and the eventual merging of
denominations is needed for many reasons. One is that the lost are
confused by the present setup.
I know of a child who was taken by his mother and stepfather to a
Catholic church every other Sunday (the Holy Spirit was quite active in
this particular church). The child spent the other Sundays with his
biological father who reportedly didn’t want him to have anything to do
with Catholics. The biological father told his child not to be baptized into
the Catholic church because he had already been baptized as a
So, instead of being torn away from Satan and encouraged to serve
Jesus, the boy was being torn apart trying to satisfy his estranged
parents. I was glad when my precious wife Helen told this child that
baptism was into Christ, not into a denomination. She told him that no
matter which church he joined he must follow Jesus to be saved.
And that is God’s truth. We Christians need to present a church that
conveys to the world that their vital choice is not between Pentecostalism
and fundamentalism, between a Methodist church and a Baptist one, or a
community church and a sectarian one. The choice is between God and
Many unbelievers will never see Jesus in heaven unless they see him
now, manifested by the unity of one cooperative organization. Jesus is
calling us to harmony so that the world will know that he was sent by
Do you care about the lost? If you do, you know that our focus should be
on saving the dying, starving, disease-stricken, sin-bound, hell-bound
unbelievers of the world. If and when they see us loving one another,
working together, and eventually agreeing on every gospel principle, the
Lord will become more attractive to them:
John 17:22-23 (Jesus praying)
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we
are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to
let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have
When we tell the lost that God loves them, will they believe it? Will they
believe Jesus saves when they can’t see him saving us from our own
The devil uses denominationalism to keep the deceived deceived. A non-
Christian once asked me, "If I decided to go to church, Cal, which one
would I go to?" His implication was, "How am I going to find the right way
if the churches themselves can't agree on what the right way is?" I can't
remember how I responded but I hope I told him the differences were
mostly minor. This was not his impression.
Frank Bartleman was a key leader during the beginnings of the great
Azusa Street revival of 1906-09 in Los Angeles, California. He often
prayed all night gripped by the Lord’s burden for revival. During one
period the spirit of prayer came on him so heavily that he would lay on his
bed during the day rolling and groaning. “The Spirit himself intercedes for
us with groans that words cannot express,” says Romans 8:26. No doubt,
Bartleman’s prayers had much to do with bringing in the revival.
Bartleman knew the importance of unity for evangelizing the world. He
God wanted a revival company, a channel through whom He could
evangelize the world. . . . He could naturally not accomplish this
with a sectarian party. That spirit has been the curse and death of
every revival body sooner or later. History repeats itself in this
When I worked at Heritage USA shortly after Jim Bakker relinquished
charge to Jerry Falwell, I overheard a man telling a reporter from CNN
that Jerry Falwell doesn’t belong at Heritage USA because Heritage is a
charismatic organization. He told the international news network that
charismatics and fundamentalists get along like oil and water. My spirit
screamed with objection and embarrassment: NO, NO, NO! Don’t tell him
THAT! The Bible says the world will know us by our love for each other
and you're telling them we can't get along?!
Splitting Is Contagious
Dissenting groups breed dissenting groups. Sin, like yeast, “works
through the whole batch of dough” (1 Cor. 5:9).
For example, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became a
sectarian group partly because Joseph Smith, according to his own
testimony, was confused by the contentious theological disputes he kept
hearing among Christians. Even today, Mormons see Christians scattered
into a disarray of various cliques with varying theological persuasions and
they surmise, This can’t be Christ’s church.
Don’t misunderstand me. Those of us who are calling for unity are not
trying to bring together all religions! That would be grossly wrong as well
as gross! It also would be impossible.
2 Corinthians 6:14 LB
Don’t be teamed with those who do not love the Lord, for what do the
people of God have in common with the people of sin? How can light live
Unity Does Not Mean Uniformity
Unity doesn’t mean doing away with variety. God created the world with
infinite variety. The of all the different species of animals. No two animals
are exactly alike. No two trees are exactly alike. No two human beings
And, more importantly, no two Christians are given exactly the same
assignments by God. No two Christian ministry departments specialize in
the same gifts. However, our Father’s creativity did not create the
hundreds of denominational divisions that exist, as one Christian once
suggested to me. Religion made them—and Satan devised the plan. How
do we know God wants us to work together as one team? We know
because he inspired Paul to pray that all followers of Jesus will glorify God
with one heart and mouth:
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of
unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart
and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Operating with one heart doesn’t mean a monotonous uniformity without
variation. And it doesn’t necessarily mean there will only be one church
building per town or per community. The Red Cross, for example, may
have several outlets in one town. But if people see a Red Cross office on
one side of town and another on the other side, they assume that during
an emergency the two offices will work in conjunction with one another.
How unfortunate that the world cannot make the same assumption of the
body of Christ. And make no mistake, we are in an emergency. People
around the world are dying like flies without the eternal red cross.
Unity Brings Efficiency, Life, and Health
Oneness among Christians creates efficiency. I once visited an Episcopal
church where the seating capacity was much greater than the number
attending. Then I visited a Baptist church in the same town where the
same was true. If these two churches merged, the heating, electric, and
building maintenance costs would be cut almost in half. But as it is, the
devil laughs like the Joker in a Batman comic book adventure when he
sees the money that could have been spent spreading the good news is
being used to pay the painter or the maintenance man. This is not good
stewardship with what the Lord has entrusted to us, and it’s one reason
he isn’t entrusting us with more.
Divisiveness deprives us of the authority of the Spirit and other blessings
that the Lord Jesus Christ purchased for us in his suffering for our sins.
Paul is talking about divisiveness when he says, “If anyone destroys
God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you
are that temple” (1 Cor. 3:17). Later in chapter eleven the Corinthians
were bringing sickness and even premature death upon themselves
partly because they were creating divisions in their selfish abuse of the
Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:17-34). Selfishness and the resulting division
can bring sickness and death. But unity brings health and life.
Unity will increase as we grow in the love and grace of Christ.
Crossing the Lines
Christians of differing styles or traditions are in the habit of not meeting
together. God’s plan is much better:
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but
let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day
This verse has been used to discourage Christians from visiting outside
their home church, but it doesn’t prohibit that at all. Constant
confinement to one circle of fellowship contributes to the continuance of
divisions that have been in place for generations. Full obedience to this
verse will increase unity rather than keep us isolated in the box of our
own home church.
When the author of Hebrews told the recipients of his letter to meet
together he didn't mean that Christians of one theological persuasion
were supposed to meet only with those of the same persuasion. No,
born-again Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, Jews, Pentecostals,
charismatics, Seventh-day Adventists, Greek Orthodox, etc., will all benefit
if they will all meet across denominational lines. Meeting together for
worship and for connecting ministries together is a wonderful
replacement for rivalry, slander, or even just ignoring each other. Pope
John Paul II was right when he told twenty-six leaders of several
denominations, “Indeed, is it not the duty of every follower of Christ to
work for the unity of all Christians?”
I have a vision of all followers of Jesus periodically visiting beyond their
home church. Although I can’t say everyone is supposed to, or can, do it,
think of how fast the walls would collapse if everyone did!
I envision pastors exchanging pulpits. I imagine one saying to another,
“My people need the revelation you have on forgiveness. Please, won’t
you come speak to us some Sunday?”
One worship song says, “We won’t be satisfied with anything ordinary.”
EvangelicalsandMormonsforJesus.com and other projects like it are for
those who are willing to stretch beyond the ordinary. By the grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ, the extraordinary is possible!
When Christians Won’t Agree
As long as those who do love the Lord fall short of the fullness of the
Spirit, there will be disagreements. But our differences don’t need to keep
us apart. Throughout church history a common characteristic of great men
and women of God has been their ability to rise above petty matters. For
example, Billy Graham’s style, theology and crusade procedures were not
exactly the same as Oral Roberts’ were. They could have snubbed each
other. But once when Billy Graham was crusading in Australia, he sent a
telegram back to Oral, thanking him for paving the way a year earlier.
Paul told the Corinthians that they were “worldly—mere infants in Christ”
(1 Cor. 3:1). He had to give them milk because they weren’t ready for
solid food (1 Cor. 3:2). Yet at the beginning of the letter he said, “I thank
God for you” (1 Cor. 1:4), and near the end of the letter he expressed his
hope of spending time with them—more than just “a passing visit,” he
said (1 Cor. 16:5-7).
He didn’t say, “I can’t fellowship with you infants—I’m avoiding Corinth on
my next missionary journey. And anyone who ever disagrees with me—in
any city—will not be allowed to join my new denomination—which I’m
naming ‘The First Church of Paul the Apostle.’” NO! He didn’t say that. He
said he thanked God for them and wanted to spend time with them!
Although it’s impossible to walk in complete unity until we’re in complete
agreement, let’s at least walk the first eighty miles together. By the time
we hit the eighty-mile marker, we’ll see our differences melting like wax
by the power of Almighty God!
My children, I want you to live and work together as one—the way
the Father and Son are one.
For how can the world know the love that is my love unless they
see it in you as you express it toward each other? You are my
representatives, my chosen instruments, and I need to manifest
myself through you, says the Lord.
1 Rick Joyner, Visions of the Harvest (Charlotte: Morning Star, 1994), 52.
2 “Indian Weapons & the Warrior Societies.” The Real West. Host. Kenny Rogers.
Executive Prod. Donna E. Lusitana. History Channel, 17 Apr. 2000.
3 Frank Bartleman, Azusa Street (Plainfield, NJ: Logos, 1980), 68.
Copyright © 2008-2012 Cal Fullerton. Permission is granted and you are encouraged to send the above article to your own email lists and post it on your own websites.
All Scripture quotations above, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE,
NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.
Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.