Unity in the Early Church: The Power of One Heart and Soul

For a moment, let’s explore the foundational growth of the early church as described in Acts 4.32, emphasizing the distinctive characteristic of unity – being of one heart and one soul. Unity, as one person stated, is so fundamental that, "The smallest church with godly unity is a powerhouse, while the largest church without unity is a dying church - ready to bust apart at the seams."

Yet, what does it mean to be of "one heart and one soul"? It's not just about practicing the same doctrines or simply avoiding conflict. While the absence of disagreement is vital, true unity goes beyond surface-level peace, which can sometimes be mistaken for apathy or stagnation. A genuinely unified church vibrantly moves forward, embodying a collective spirit and purpose.
Reflecting on the early church, there are five components to understand about their unity:

A Realization of Being Part of Something Bigger: In the early days, the congregation grasped the importance of unity, emphasizing the collective body over individual interests. As modern individuals, particularly Americans, our focus often leans towards individualism and personal gains. But, the church, unlike a club, is a collective body. Romans 12.4-5 and 1 Corinthians 12.12-13 remind us that we are different parts of one body, emphasizing mutual dependency.

Placing the Body Above Personal Benefits: Acts 4.32 illustrates that individual members sold possessions voluntarily for the benefit of others. Their actions underscored that the well-being of the congregation outweighed personal property or gain. Paul’s sentiments in Philippians 1.21-24 and Jesus's sacrifices (Philippians 2.1-8) further exemplify this sentiment.

Subordinating Individual Goals:  With the embracing of a collective heart, individual objectives morph into collective aspirations. Acts 2.44-47 and 4.32-35 showcase how individual land goals transitioned to meet the body's needs. It’s not about abandoning personal ambitions but aligning them with Jesus and His body.

Unity Overshadowing Diversity: Despite their diverse backgrounds, as seen in Acts 2.9-11 and Acts 6.1-6, the early Christians overlooked their differences, choosing to function as a united force. They transcended barriers like nationality, gender, social class, and more, focusing on the teachings of Jesus.

Their Unity Strengthened the Apostles' Testimony: Acts 4.33 suggests that the apostles' testimony might have been fortified by their visible unity. Beyond miracles, their unity was a testament to their teachings, emphasizing Jesus’s call for unity in John 17.20-21.

Unity is our greatest testimony to the world. If we truly seek to follow the footsteps of the early church, we must resonate with the singular heartbeat of Jesus. Prioritizing the body over individual pursuits, aligning our personal goals with the collective's, and celebrating unity over diverse backgrounds can lead to a potent testimony, attracting many to the teachings of Jesus.

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Matthew Allen

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