Unity Apart From The Gospel Is Self-Exaltation

by Michael Kelley June 22, 2015

God loves unity.

In John 17, Jesus’ high priestly prayer just before His death, He could have prayed many things for His followers, and He did. But one of the recurring themes in that passage of Scripture is unity:

“…protect them by Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one as We are one” (v. 11).
“May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You” (v. 21).
“May they also be one in us, so the world may believe You sent Me” (v. 21).

But unity is not an end in itself. In fact unity, apart from the gospel, is self-exaltation.

There was another group of people, years and years earlier, who were unified, but they were unified around the wrong things:

“At one time the whole earth had the same language and vocabulary. As people migrated from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:1-4).

These people had all the ingredients any marketing consultant might tell you are essential for a group to accomplish great things together. They spoke the same language, they had a big goal, and they were motivated to take action. The problem was they were unified around the wrong thing, and when you come around something from the gospel the end result is always going to be self-exaltation.

All in all, it’s good and right that any group of people knows who they are and what they’re going after together. But if we want it to last, we should do well to make sure we aren’t worshiping the goal:

“So from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city…” (Genesis 11:8).