Jesus said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” – Luke 4:43
Sharing a common purpose centered in the Gospel is the central element that unites us as a congregation, as the body of Christ and as Christians. All who worship the Holy Trinity and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins are regarded by Lutherans as fellow Christians.
St. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, elaborated on this unity in his letter to the Ephesians (4:3-6): …eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Noteworthy in this is what tends to divide Christians today: one faith – although our confessions have many things in common, they hold significant differences that can impact the Gospel and and one baptism – unlike our own, many churches do not acknowledge infant baptism and may re-baptize people many times.
Unity is an illusive thing and a momentary blessing when it does occur. Sometimes unity is fleeting because people think they believe the same thing, but when some practical matter comes up, they are quickly divided over it. Under every practice or tradition are beliefs. Perhaps the best example of this was a fundraising event back in the 16th century.
At that time, the Roman Church was fundraising for church buildings and operations by offering indulgences (selling forgiveness). Martin Luther opposed this practice on the basis of the Gospel and was soon after excommunicated.
True unity can only come through the Spirit’s work in our lives, calling us to repentance and to blessing of the Gospel, the unites us under Christ our Lord who establishes our faith and our life together.