Do you want to see revival in your nation? Your state? Your community? Your church? Guess where revival starts?
It’s easy to complain about all the things in life we don’t like or agree with, especially when we can post it on social media. It’s much more difficult to be the catalyst for change we want to see.
I’ve been praying for revival in my own life and in my church and in my community. I know that revival won’t come until we humble ourselves before the Lord and pray and seek His face and repent of our wicked ways (2 Chronicles 7:14). Some ladies in my small group and I have begun something I used to do years ago called drive-by prayer. We get in the car and drive around, praying for the homes, churches, schools, and businesses we pass by, asking God to draw people to Himself, to heal, provide, restore, and revive.
But I see another aspect to seeking God for revival that He keeps bringing to my attention: unity.
The Power of Unity
Apart from unity, will we have true revival? What does unity mean and what does it look like?
I shared with my small group recently that I felt God was leading us to be on mission with Him in our own community, but that our first step would be a prayer movement in our county. The very next Sunday, my pastor announced a 21-day prayer focus in our church. Guess what the topic was?
Here’s what Jesus had to say about unity:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 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. 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 loved me (John 17:20-23, NIV84).
Jesus prayed for us–future believers–that we would all be one in Him. But I look around, and we have so many different denominations, we worship in so many different churches, even within a small geographic radius, and we have so many varied beliefs. Even within our own churches, we often have division and strife.
It seems impossible that we could ever agree about everything, so how can we be one?
I think we have to change our understanding of unity and what Jesus meant.
One of my favorite Psalms is 133.
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”
The Hebrew word translated unity in this passage is yahad, meaning “together, along with, in close proximity or concord either in space or time; by extension; close association in relationships.”
I can’t find anywhere that says this word meant all having the same opinion. So I looked up the word one that Jesus refers to in John 17. The Greek word used there is heis, meaning “one, single, faithful to a wife or husband, agreeing, alike, same, unity, in unison.”
Jesus is praying that believers would be one, single, faithful, agreeing, alike, same, in unison. So how can that be when we are all so different?
Well, can you imagine a fisherman and a tax collector being in agreement? How about the church being one with a man who was coming to arrest them for being Christians?
Yet we see that in the early church. I think the difference with our way of thinking in today’s culture is that we expect everyone to agree in opinion. Jesus wanted us to agree in purpose.
For instance, the disciples often disagreed about things, as did members of the early church. But they would work out the important issues, and drop the lesser things.
I read recently of a family that had a matter meter. If an argument arose about something, they would rate it on the matter meter on a scale from one to ten. If it rated high enough, they would work it out. If it rated too low to matter, they would drop it (Journey: A Woman’s Guide to Intimacy with God, Vol. 24, Lifeway Press, September 21, 2017).
What if we had that mentality in the church? If a disagreement rates high on the matter of eternity, we work it out with prayer and love, but if it makes no eternal difference, we drop it. Period.
You know what the result would be? Look back at Psalm 133, and I’ll show you.
The oil poured over Aaron the priest was to anoint him. It signified “his total consecration to holy service” (NIV Study Bible, 1984). Without unity in the body of Christ, we lose the anointing of God to do the things He has called us to do. We can’t have revival or impact our communities for God apart from his power and anointing.
“A dew as profuse as that of Mount Hermon would make Zion richly fruitful” (NIV Study Bible, 1984). Unity brings life, growth, and fruitfulness. Without it, we can’t have a fruitful ministry.
“For there the Lord bestows his blessing” (Psalm 133:3b). Where there is unity, there is the blessing and favor of God, which are essential to do anything of value for the kingdom.
So, if we are so stubborn that we can’t give up our right to be right, and instead seek to be righteous, then we will forfeit the anointing, fruitfulness, and blessing of God on our lives, our churches, our communities, and our nation.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think being right and having an opinion is worth that kind of loss.
So what does unity look like? It’s believing God and praying together in one accord–one heart, one mind, united in our purpose to see God’s Kingdom come, His name glorified, His church revived, and His world reached with the Gospel.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 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” (Ephesians 4:2-6).
Can we achieve this kind of unity as the Body of Christ and reach our communities and our nation for God’s glory? I believe we can, but it starts with each of us surrendering our right to be right, and humbling ourselves before God and each other. My opinion doesn’t matter much on the eternity matter meter.
But God’s opinion does. And I believe He is calling us to follow Him into our world, with love in our hearts, help in our hands, and the Gospel on our lips–arms locked in the power of unity.