Psalm 133:1 (ESV) … “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”
When you read the Scriptures, you cannot help but discover that the “brothers” did not always live in unity. Cain killed Abel (Gen. 4), Lot quarreled with Abraham (Gen. 13), Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him for a slave (Gen. 37), and the brothers did not even get along among themselves! (Gen. 45:24). Miriam and Aaron criticized their brother Moses (Num. 12), and some of David’s children turned against him (2 Sam. 13–18; and note 2 Sam. 12:10). Our Lord’s own disciples frequently quarreled over which one of them was the greatest (Matt. 18:1ff; Mark 9:33ff; Luke 22:23ff), and Paul and Barnabas argued over John Mark and finally broke company and chose new ministry companions (Acts 15:36–41). The church began in visible unity (Acts 2:1, 44, 46), but when you read Paul’s epistles, you find a sad story of rivalry and division, and it is not much better today.
It was one thing for the Jewish clans to spend a few days together while traveling to Jerusalem and quite something else to dwell together at home for the rest of the year! Yet they all had a common ancestor in Abraham; they spoke a common language; they worshiped the same God; they were children of the same covenant; they shared a common land; and they were governed by the same holy law. Christians today have experienced the same spiritual birth, worship the same God, declare the same gospel message, preach from the same Scriptures, and are headed for the same heavenly city, but, alas, there is often more division among us than unity! Yet all of us know that spiritual oneness in Christ (Gal. 3:26–29; Eph. 4:1–6) is both “good and pleasant.” There is an artificial “unity” that is based on “least common denominator” theology and is more organizational uniformity than the kind of spiritual unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17:11, 21–23). This we must avoid. Those who have truly been “born of God” (1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18) belong to the same family and need to love one another.