Why Is it Pleasant When God’s People Live Together in Unity?

The Bible affirms the pleasantness of unity among believers since it assists them in worshiping God together, testifies to the world about the power of the gospel, and demonstrates the oneness we have in Christ.

Contributing Writer
Published Jul 12, 2022
Why Is it Pleasant When God’s People Live Together in Unity?

Many Christians have heard about fights and schisms over petty issues in the church. People get upset over decisions about carpet color and music styles in the church.

However, as Thom Rainer notes in the article “25 Things Church Members Argue About,” these arguments and schisms are “all distractions from what we should be doing in our churches. In that sense, they are really great distractions from the Great Commission.”

Unity is important in the body of Christ because of this tendency to fight and quarrel. Since we are all one in Christ, a part of His church, then we should seek to get along.

When we live together in unity with other believers, we demonstrate the power of the gospel and live in a way that pleases the Lord. As Psalm 133 teaches us, it is pleasant for believers to live in harmony.

Background of Psalm 133

Psalm 133 is a short psalm in the category of pilgrim psalms, also known as a song of ascents. Pilgrim psalms were sung when the Jewish people traveled to Jerusalem for the seven festivals God commanded the Israelites to observe (Leviticus 23:4-44).

As the Jewish people or “pilgrims” traveled, they would sing the songs of ascents. Many of these psalms have themes of worshiping together as a nation.

Because Psalm 133 is a pilgrim song, it makes sense that David would emphasize unity. As the first verse in the Psalm reads, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

The Israelites were reminded to seek peace and unity when worshiping God. He appreciates when His followers seek to live in unity with one another. An attitude of unity was especially needed when Israel worshiped God together as a nation.

The rest of the verses compare the goodness of unity to the oil running down Aaron’s beard and the dew on Mount Hermon.

In describing the oil running over Aaron’s priestly garment and onto the stones on the breast piece that symbolized the 12 tribes of Israel, David is emphasizing the importance of worshiping in unity (Exodus 28:15-30; Psalm 133:2).

Likewise, the dew on Mount Hermon refers to the renewing power of worship (Psalm 133:3). New strength filled Israel when the people worshiped together, united as a nation serving the Lord.

New Testament Emphasis on Unity

Just as God appreciated unity among His followers in the Old Testament, He also values unity in the church. Since the church is the body of Christ, all its members should strive to live in harmony. As Paul says in Ephesians 4:1-6,

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.

It is pleasant when Christians live together in unity because they are representatives of Christ’s body. When everyone gets along, they can better serve the Lord in harmony.

The early church sought to live at peace together (Acts 4:32). Together, they met to worship the Lord and share communion (Acts 2:42). Internal strife and arguments had no place in the early church.

When there were significant questions about doctrinal matters, they met together to discuss the matter according to Scripture and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:12-19). The result of the Jerusalem Council came about because the believers sought to maintain unity (Acts 15).

In deciding to give rules to the Gentile believers in the first century, the council sought to maintain peace (Acts 15:20-29). These rules had nothing to do with the Gentiles’ salvation.

Finally, the New Testament emphasizes the goodness of unity, just as the Old Testament did, because doing so reflects God’s nature. Jesus prayed to the Father that His followers would have complete unity just as He is one with the Father (John 17:23).

Disunity among believers disrupts their witness as the body of Christ. Strife among believers mars the goodness of unity that God desires for His people (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Modern Application

Although Christians are not required to travel to Jerusalem for appointed festivals, singing pilgrim songs, they are expected to live in harmony with each other (Romans 12:16). When we live together in unity, we demonstrate oneness in Christ.

Unity in the church shows to a watching world that the gospel brings people together and crosses cultural and ethnic boundaries. In Jesus, people are all equal and united as the people of God. There is no distinction between Jew or Gentile, male or female (Galatians 3:28).

To experience the pleasantness of living in harmony, as God intends, believers must prioritize unity. We should seek to agree on the essential doctrines of the faith.

Belief in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, His perfect humanity and complete divinity, and salvation by grace through faith alone should be included in the fundamentals of every group of Christians (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 2:5-8).

Churches should also agree on the importance of evangelism, discipleship, and baptism (Matthew 28:18-20). In the basics of Christianity, all believers should strive for harmony within the church (1 Corinthians 1:10-17).

Difference Between Unity and Uniformity

Although unity is vital for the health of the church and its witness, this should not be confused with uniformity. Every person is unique with a special combination of spiritual gifts and personality traits (see 1 Corinthians 12:7).

Even though we should all agree on the essential teachings of Christianity, this does not mean everyone should act, look, or dress the same.

The picture of the church as a “body” helps us understand that there are celebrated differences among the members of a church, which makes the body of believers stronger (1 Corinthians 12:18-27).

Furthermore, the effort for unity does not mean that believers will always agree on every issue or doctrine. Individual Christians will have their own opinions on the style of worship or use of technology in a sanctuary.

Also, believers may differ in other, non-essential areas of doctrine, such as eschatology or spiritual gifts. These issues should not cause division but instead serve as an opportunity to act graciously toward others.

We can agree to disagree on certain areas, keeping the conversation open and friendly, while affirming the essentials of the faith.

There will be times when we need to disassociate with people over serious doctrinal issues or persistent sin (Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6). However, we should try to live in harmony with others unless doing so compromises a core biblical teaching.

Why Does This Matter?

Many churches have been torn apart because of internal strife and a lack of unity. Although there are instances of people breaking away from a church because of significant doctrinal disagreements, numerous churches have experienced schisms over petty arguments.

Instead of believing that all people in the church must look and act the same, Christians should celebrate the beauty of diversity in the church and try to live harmoniously with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Bible affirms the pleasantness of unity among believers since it assists them in worshiping God together, testifies to the world about the power of the gospel, and demonstrates the oneness we have in Christ.

For Israel, the reminder of harmony was important in traveling to Jerusalem to worship God at the regularly appointed feasts. Psalm 133 also reminds Christians today of the importance of unity when worshiping the Lord and testifying to the life-changing effects of the gospel.

For further reading:

What Is the Meaning of the Body of Christ?

What Is the Importance of Having a Spiritual Family?

What Does the Bible Say about Fellowship?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Khanchit Khirisutchalual


Sophia Bricker is a writer. Her mission is to help others grow in their relationship with Jesus through thoughtful articles, devotionals, and stories. She completed a BA and MA in Christian ministry, which included extensive study of the Bible and theology, and an MFA in creative writing. You can follow her blog about her story, faith, and creativity at The Cross, a Pen, and a Page.

SHARE

Christianity / Life / Christian Life / Why Is it Pleasant When God’s People Live Together in Unity?