Unity is not conformity. Unity comes from the graces God bestows upon us while conformity is the result of pressure from outside sources. Unity is a noun. It is not something you do but a concept of how something should be. As believers, we are to be unified with one another.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;” Ephesians 4:1-4.
There are seven Christian graces mentioned in this text: lowliness (humility), meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, love, endeavoring, and peace. The body of Christ cannot experience unity unless He first does a work within us.
Humility is simply putting Christ and others before you. Humility is recognizing our true condition in such a way that we do not think more highly of ourselves then we ought to, nor less highly of ourselves then we ought to.
Meekness is not a sign of weakness but a sign to others that we have control over the power that has been given to us. Coupled with this grace of meekness is longsuffering. Literally, longsuffering means “long-tempered”. Christians should be able to experience discomfort without retaliating. Ouch!
The definition of forbearing is to hold back from especially with an effort. This effort of holding back is intertwined with love, agape love, which makes it possible to do so. If Christ does not first fill us with His love we would be trying to accomplish something through our own power instead of relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Endeavoring means “being eager to maintain, or guard” Our responsibility as Christians is to eagerly “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3). The final grace is peace. First and foremost we are to be at peace with God. If a believer cannot get along with God, he will not be able to get along with others. Peace stems from within ourselves after we have first been reconciled to God. Peace is broken through sin: unbelief, unconfessed sin, careless living, and worldliness in actions and attitude. When we repent of our sin, fellowship is restored and peace reigns in our hearts again. This builds unity.
Unity is not conformity. It is not for us to conform but instead for God to unify the body of Christ. Unity is a result of God’s work within our hearts. We must surrender to the work that God is doing in us if there is going to be unity in the body of Christ. Conformity is self made. Unity is God made.