Unity


Christians are often fond of quoting Psalm 133: 1 ("Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"), but the rest of the psalm needs to be read as well to catch the sense: "Like the precious oil upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, upon Aaron’s beard, that ran down to the hem of his garments; as the dew of Hermon that descendeth on the mountains of Zion; for there hath Jehovah commanded the blessing, life for evermore" (vs. 2, 3). Here we have two lovely illustrations of unity among brethren. It is like ointment descending from the head of the high priest, and as dew descending from Mount Hermon’s snowy peak. So how is the unity to be promoted? It is by living sufficiently near to our great priestly Head so that we catch the fragrant ointment as it descends from Him, and it is to be dwelling so near the Man in the glory that the refreshing dew of His grace drops upon our souls. This is the way to dwell in unity with our brethren. It is one thing to talk about unity, and quite another thing altogether to dwell in it. We may profess to hold the unity of the body and the unity of the Spirit and all the while be marked by selfish strife, party spirit, and sectarian feeling—all of which are entirely destructive of practical unity. If brethren are to dwell together in unity, they must be receiving the ointment from the Head, and the refreshing showers from the true Hermon. They must live in the very presence of Christ, so that all their points and angles are moulded off, all their selfishness judged and subdued, and all their own peculiar notions set aside. As a consequence, there will be largeness of heart, breadth of mind, and stores of sympathy. It will not then be loving those who think with us and feel with us as to some pet theory or other. It will be love "towards all the saints" and "all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption" (Eph. 1: 15; 6: 24). The Head of the body loves all His members, and if we are drinking into His spirit and learning from Him, then we shall love all likewise. No doubt, those who keep His commandments enjoy His special love, and so we cannot but especially love those in whom we trace most of His blessed spirit—but this is a totally different thing from loving people because they adopt our line of truth, or our peculiar views. It must be Christ, and not self, if we are to "dwell together in unity" (Ps. 133: 1).

Look at that beautiful picture presented in Philippians 2. There we see, first of all, the divine Head Himself, and from Him the ointment descending to the skirts of His garments (see vs. 5–8). Where did Paul get the grace to enable him to be ready to be poured out as a drink–offering upon the sacrifice of his brethren (see v17)? What was it that made Timothy care for other people (see vs. 19, 20)? What led Epaphroditus to put his life at risk in order to supply his brethren’s lack (see vs 5, 30)? What is the one grand answer to all these questions? Simply this: these beloved servants of Christ lived so much in their Master’s presence, and dwelt so near the Man in the glory, that the fragrant ointment, and the refreshing dew, fell upon their souls abundantly, and made them channels of blessing to others. This, beloved Christian reader, is the great secret of getting on together. If brethren are to dwell together in unity, they must have the "ointment" and the "dew" dropping continually upon them. They must live close to Christ, and be occupied with Him, so that they may show forth His virtues, and reflect His blessed image. It is God Himself who says "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Ps. 133: 1). Surely this ought to stir our hearts to seek in every possible way to promote this lovely togetherness, to sink self and all that belongs to it, and to surrender everything that might tend in any measure to alienate our hearts from Christ, or from one another.

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