Unity is precious in God’s sight. The Lord Jesus on the night He was betrayed prayed that his disciples might be one, “even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21). Certainly, a fractured Christianity loses its power to influence the world.
Unity comes from a commitment of love toward God and to His Son Jesus Christ. Before Jesus prayed for unity, He recognized that He had given his disciples the words and commandments His Father had given Him and that they had kept that word (17:6-8).
These words were important to Jesus, because they were the Truth. Jesus also prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (17:17-19). Before there can be unity, there must be sanctification in the truth. Unity without truth is not unity; it is only the appearance of unity.
Postmodern thinking suggests that we dismiss the concept of truth altogether and find our unity in our respect for one another. They believe truth cannot be known, so we don’t have to fear opposing views. Jesus knew better. He knew that there are wolves who will tear apart the flock.
A wolf may appear in sheep’s clothing and join a flock, but he will always be a wolf. Paul warned about wolves who “will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30). Allowing a wolf to come in among the flock unguarded will always result in loss.
This is why, as much as the Lord wants unity, faithful shepherds must mark and avoid those who cause dissension by their teaching and turn away from them (Rom. 16:17-18). The Lord’s desire for unity must never become an opportunity for the wolf to get in the fold.