By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
God wants all people to be united in his love. He calls Christians to lead the way to unity, showing the world what God’s love looks like in action. Too often, though, church conflicts and cultural polarization cause stress and division instead. Scripture for unity is a powerful relationship tool. Bible verses about unity can help us develop the relationships we should have as brothers and sisters in Christ. Here are 20 bonding scriptures for unity, and how to cultivate unity in the church and world today.
How Does the Bible Talk about Unity?
The Bible talks about unity – with God, and with other believers in God’s family – as a spiritual reality that exists for all Christians because we are all members of the same family. However, the Bible also acknowledges that believers need to grow spiritually to be able to live out that unity and demonstrate it to the world. The Bible often urges believers to learn to live in ways that reflect their spiritual relationships as brothers and sisters who share the same heavenly Father.
In John chapter 17, Jesus prays for his disciples and all believers throughout history to live in unity with each other: “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. … 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 – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:11, 20-23).
God wants all believers to act as one body united with Christ, the Bible says. 1 Corinthians 12:12-3, 21-27 describes the importance of unity for the body of Christ to function as God designed it: “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. … The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
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18 More Bonding Scriptures for Unity
Besides the two scriptures above, here are 18 more bonding scriptures for unity:
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” – Psalm 133:1
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – Jesus in John 13:35
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” – 1 Peter 3:8
“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. … So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:3-6, 11-13
“All the believers were one in heart and mind…” – Acts 4:32
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 15:5-6
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” – Philippians 2:1-2
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:12-15
“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” – 2 Corinthians 13:11
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” – Jesus in John 15:12
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you 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 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 4:1-6
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” – Romans 12:4-5
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:16-18
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.” - Philippians 1:27
“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. … Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” – Romans 14:10,19
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” - Galatians 3:28
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” – Romans 15:5-7
How to Cultivate Unity in the Church and Our World Today
We can cultivate unity – both in the church and in our world – by seeking God’s wonder together, listening to each other with the goal of learning, and serving together.
Looking for God’s wonder and sharing awe-inspiring experiences can powerfully expand our perspectives, drawing us closer to each other as we move closer to God together. My book Wake Up to Wonder describes research that shows how seeking God’s wonder with other people and experiencing awe together can lead to unity. When people experience awe together, one study reveals, that reduces polarization and increases a sense of community between them, by helping them be humble and feel more connected to each other than they would be otherwise. Another study I mention in my book shows that worshiping together helps people be peaceful, socially aware, and compassionate – which are all qualities that promote unity.
It’s also important to make time to listen to, and learn from, each other. Everyone has important stories to share. We can be intentional about starting conversations with other believers and then listen with respect for the value of their life experiences, even when we disagree with their opinions. God gives us opportunities to continue learning throughout our lives, and each person we meet can potentially teach us something valuable.
Serving together on mutual service projects is another vital way to cultivate unity. When we’re working to achieve a common goal that benefits our shared community, we’re naturally focused on how to cooperate with each other. Mutual service motivates us to discover and use each of our personal strengths to complement each other, as well. When we serve with other believers, all of us can make valuable contributions to achieve a goal that helps everyone.
In this fallen world, relationships can be challenging, but unity in Christ remains vital. We need to resolve conflicts through the power of God’s love. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we share the same heavenly Father – and he offers us an unlimited supply of love to bond us together in unity.
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Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter.