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The Fragrance That Binds

Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.” The second verse goes on to say, “It (unity) is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard of Aaron…” How is unity like the anointing oil?

In Exodus 30:23-25, we read God’s instructions to Moses regarding the preparation of a special anointing oil. This oil was a unique blend of spices made by a master perfumer. Myrrh, cinnamon, cane, and cassia, each of these ingredients was different from the others, and each had a distinct fragrance. As they were blended together, a new scent was created. Yet, to the discerning nose, the aroma of each individual spice could be found. Cassia was not made to smell like myrrh, nor was the fragrance of cane changed to be like cinnamon. These separate distinct fragrances were blended together with olive oil to become a new kind of oil for God’s purposes.

What an exciting analogy this is of how the body of Christ can achieve unity. As individual believers, we are like the different, fragrant spices: distinctly ourselves, yet joined by the oil of the Holy Spirit for one distinct purpose: to be an expression, a proclamation, of the one who has redeemed us and brought us out of darkness into His eternal light. Our individuality is never sacrificed, yet by God’s bonding, we become one.

Many of us have confused the call to unity for a call to uniformity. Some Christians seem to think, “If everyone sees things from my point of view, if everyone does it my way, then we can be one.” We see this in differing opinions about modes of worship, baptism, spiritual gifts, the Lord’s Supper, etc. This focus on external actions rather than upon unity of a common faith in Christ is the division that tears the Church apart and renders her powerless against the forces of evil in the world.

What is unity then if it is not uniformity? Webster’s dictionary defines unity as “continuity of purpose.” Unity in the Body of Christ will happen only when we come together with a single vision of purpose. I Peter 2:9 tells us what that single purpose is, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” We as individuals and as the corporate Body of Christ, have been called to be a living proclamation of Jesus and His redemptive work. This is the Christian's purpose; this is the Church’s unifying goal.

The unity that Christ prayed for in John 17:11, 20-23, will come about only by recognizing that we Christians are called to be a proclamation of Christ. If we are intent upon this one purpose, the love of Christ will transcend and cover our differences. May we come together intent upon this one purpose, and in that purpose truly become one.

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