Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; 3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
In the 20th century the ecumenical movement started from a felt need of the lack of the Church’s influence in the world. There is today a cry for unity in religion. We see prayer services where those of a Catholic or Protestant faith can lift up prayers to God along with those of an Islamic faith or Buddhist faith. The general thought is that if we can break down doctrinal barriers than this world would be a much better place.
What the world needs is not a lot of indiscriminate unification but for the Church to return to her apostolic roots. The verse above states that it is pleasant when brethren dwell together in unity. Then the verse gives very picturesque types of the Holy Spirit. If the Church was ever a major influence in the world it was because she had God on her side. In the beginning of the Church we can clearly see what unified it and made it a force to be reckoned with.
In Acts 2, we find the Church in a state of revival and unity. However, what was the unifying factor for them? It seems from the book of Acts that there unity as brethren was attributable to five things. In Acts 2:1 we see that they are united by prayer that brought them in one accord to one place. This is a great reason the Church has no power because they quit praying. The Bible plainly says when two or more are gathered that God is in the middle of us. I fear we have seen over and over what man is capable of accomplishing where the church is not unified, absorbed in prayer. The second unifying factor for the early church is a common salvation experience. Joining hands with other faiths will not accomplish anything in this world! God will only send revival to those that have received the word gladly and asked for Jesus Christ’s forgiveness.
Next, we see that the Church continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine. We cannot have unity with those that don’t share a common belief in the fundamentals of the faith.
The unity of this Church was brought about by a simple belief and obedience in the teaching Jesus gave to the Apostles. Unity was also promoted in the Church by fellowship, fellowship comes from the Greek word koinonia, and gives the picture of a partnership. These believer brought together by the common experience of salvation and a common doctrinal foundation now found that they had a common mission—to serve others and share the Gospel with the world. The Church has all but forgotten our common mission to take the Gospel to the world, and so the message rarely reaches outside the walls of the Church.
Breaking bread together is another key feature of the early Church’s unity. How often does the Church of today break bread together? We are so busy, so involved in our own business and family activities that we rarely get together to share a meal with fellow believers. We only have surface relationships with others believers but Christ gave us the Church so we can edify one another how can we do that till we get to know people where they live. The last thing that brought unity was that they had all things common. They were genuinely concerned with the physical needs of other believers and were willing to do without or sell their own possessions so everyone could have material needs met.
What we call unity today is a poor substitute for the true brotherhood of the first century church. We will never again have apostolic power till we have reclaimed apostolic living and unity. Their existence was so simple they were obeying the teachings of Jesus with no reservation. If we had their unity, we would have their power. We would have revival.