When you become a Christian, God expects you to be a part of His church. But when you become a part of the church, He wants you to a unifying presence there. God desires for Christians to get along. Not only does he desire unity, He demands it! The early church clearly set the example. It says of them “All the believers were one in heart and mind” (Acts 4:32) Unity is All About Love Jesus was clear when He said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35). Love is the identifying mark of Christian unity. The apostle Paul said a lot about unity when he wrote to the Ephesian church. He praised the church, writing: “ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you.” (Ephesians 1:15-16.) He went on to urge the members “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love; Make every effort to keep the unity of the Sprit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). How can I be a source of unity and never be a divisive force? By loving my fellow church members unconditionally. Gossip and Other Negative Talk Undermine Unity. Romans 1:29-31 gives a very depressing list of unrighteous acts: “envy, murder, quarrelling, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, faithless, heartless and ruthless.” Whew! Right in the middle of the list is the evil deed of gossip. Dictionaries call it “idle talk.” Some say it is unproven personal or private information about others. The bottom line is: gossip is destructive in the church. Few things can destroy the unity of a church like gossip. How should we respond to this issue of gossip in our church? First do not be source of gossip. If you have any doubt whether something is gossip or not, do not mention it. Keep your tongue under control. Secondly, if someone in the church begins to share gossip with you, gently stop him or her. Kindly say that you would rather not hear any gossip and you would hope it would not continue to spread. You can be a unifier in your church with those simple words. Forgiveness and Unity. Jesus said it clearly. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive you” (Matthew 6:14-15). Unity in the church will not happen if members have unforgiving hearts. Too many times members have anger and hurt because of something another member or the pastor or the staff has said or done--or failed to do. I love the way Paul puts it is Colossians 3:12-13; “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassions, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Each local church is made up of imperfect members and imperfect pastors. We will make mistakes. Unity in the church will only happen if members have forgiving hearts—forgiving unconditionally! Just like Jesus forgives us! The Second Pledge I Am a Church Member I will seek to be a source of unity in my church. I know there are no perfect pastors, staff, or other church members. But neither am I perfect. I will not be a source of gossip or dissension. One of the greatest contributions I can make is to do all I can with God’s power to help keep the church in unity for the sake of the Gospel.