Be of the same mind. Have the same love. Be in full accord. Philippians 2:2.
The spread of Christianity to diverse cultures posed this question: How do Christians remain united?
St. Paul gave the advice above. Cyprian, a 2nd century church leader, urged Christians to think of themselves as members of a choir, whose conductor was the bishop.
Antony was sought out for advice by Christians of very different backgrounds – peasants and politicians, army officers and teachers. His secret of unity was to live the simplicity of the Beatitudes – the beautiful attitudes which Jesus recommended in Matthew 5. We learn that so many people followed Antony’s way of life in the desert that
‘their cells in the hills were like tents filled with divine choirs – people chanting, studying, fasting, praying, rejoicing in the hope of future boons, working for the distribution of alms, and maintaining love and harmony among themselves. It was as if one truly looked on a land all its own – a land of devotion and righteousness. For neither perpetrator nor victim of injustice was there, nor complaint.’
The Life of Antony by Athanasius
One secret of unity for Celtic Christians was to make themselves one with the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and to make themselves one with the people among whom they lived. In this way they experienced unity in diversity, unity without uniformity. When we make ourselves one we want what is good for the other. In order to make ourselves one we must empty ourselves, as Jesus emptied himself. This brings about a universal love. The attitude of making ourselves one in all things except sin should be the basis of our relationship with everyone, with those in authority and with those who have nothing.
Perhaps you are sometimes caught speaking disparagingly of Christians of another church? Remember, you do not have to agree with them to be of the same love. Whenever you find yourself doing this, decide to make yourself one.
Father, I make myself one with you
Jesus, I make myself one with you
Spirit, I make myself one with you
Christians of every church, I make myself one with you