Good morning, brothers and sisters, may the grace and peace of our Lord be with you!
Walking Together in Unity
In the book of Amos, there is a famous verse that speaks about two walking together. Here is the verse in its entire context:
Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey?
Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing? Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it? Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all?
If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid?
If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?
Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy? (Amos 3:3-8)
Here are nine rhetorical questions in a row, using repetition and metaphors to emphasize that the Lord and His servants are of one heart! What the Lord God does, He will reveal to His servants (Amos 3:7); when the servants prophesy, it is because the Lord God has spoken (Amos 3:8). In order to walk together with the Lord, one must first be united with the Lord. Once we apply this principle to koinonia, everything becomes clear—the fellowship of born-again believers is one body, and this body walks together in unity with the Lord. This is a cause and effect—because we are united with the Lord, therefore it is possible to walk together with Him.
The Bible emphasizes purity
This is the reason why the Bible repeatedly emphasizes purity. Purity is what allows us to have the life of God, to have the mind of God, to have the heart of God, and to walk together with God. The opposite of purity is impurity, and if a church is impure, and the people are not of like minds, how can the church walk together in unity with the Lord? The Old Testament uses the word “holy” to signify purity. To serve as a reminder of purity in daily living, God also commanded that certain plants, animals, and objects should not be mixed or used together.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” (Lev 19:1-2)
You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled.
You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.
You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together. (Dt 22:9-11)
In the same way, the New Testament also reiterates the importance of holiness and purity:
You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Pet 2:5,9)
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship (koinonia) has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial (another name for Satan), or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (2 Cor 6:14-15)
Speaking of the church, please note that a member and a congregation are different. “The church” refers to its members, not to the congregation. Members of the church must meet the requirements of the Bible and so members could be limited in number. The congregation can be as large as possible. The congregation represents a door opening out to the world, because all are welcome to come in and hear the gospel, and everyone is invited to come in and seek Jesus. Church members, on the other hand, are members of the body of Christ, and is a group of people connected to Christ and to each other. A church that is pure may not seem like it from the outside, because there are many people coming and going, and everyone is welcome to attend. However, the internal core of the church must be made up of a group of faithful Christ-followers.
Purity is not limited, but wide-reaching
Allow me to clarify something: “Purity” is not limited to a privileged few, but is wide-reaching to many. In our daily lives, the best things that are most widely sought after are items that are pure and unpolluted. For example, purified water, purified air, clean fruits and vegetables. Pure gold, pure diamonds, pure wool…the purer an object is, the higher its value. Most people don’t want to drink unclean water, breathe polluted air, or eat vegetables that have pesticides in them. They do so only because they do not have access to the pure options, or because the price for obtaining the pure versions is too high.
God is the purest of the pure, yet He accepted the sinners of the world. His own purity was not polluted, and those who received Him could do so “without money and without cost” (Is 55:1, refer to Is 55:1-7). Jesus Christ is the purest of the pure, yet He walked on this sinful earth. His own purity was not defiled, and He freely gave salvation to us. Brothers and sisters, not only is God in His three persons the purest of the pure, but His purity was able to reach the widest audience. And to think that it actually costs us nothing to receive this purity: Freely you have received, freely give! The early church was pure, but they did not close the door and just hang out among themselves. Rather, they became powerful witnesses for the Lord, and gained the favor of the people. As a result,
The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7)
Priests were originally just religious people; they believed in the Jewish religion. When the word of God spread, these religious people became Christ-believers. Why must we distinguish between Christ-believers and religious people? Because if we don’t, then religious people will never be saved, and the church will never be pure. Such a church cannot walk together in unity with God. Koinonia is “being of the same mind, united in spirit, intent on one purpose”, and this can be achieved only when everyone is “in Christ”:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. (Php 2:1-2)
Praise the Lord, His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Is 55:9). Blessed is the church who walks with the Lord!