Unity as Seen in the Institutional Church.
Most people in Christendom pay lip service to the prayer and teaching of Jesus concerning unity. While they may agree that God wants His Church to be "unified," they continue to take part in the fracturing and splintering that takes place yet promote it by their dogmatic doctrinal stance and the practice of excluding people who do not believe things their way.
Historically, the Institutional Church came about by well-intentioned men who set out to keep doctrinal purity. They were denominational-appointed guardians of the "truth," the keepers of orthodoxy. These men assumed that God placed in their hands the responsibility and the authority to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).
Institutional religions make the same assumption. Their idea of keeping the people unified follows this mode of thinking:
1) God has assigned them the task of interpreting and determining what the truth is on spiritual matters;
2) All of God's people must embrace their interpretation and decision as to what makes up the "body of Truth," which they label "the doctrine of the church" to give it authenticity;
3) Everyone must be indoctrinated by indoctrination classes and sign a membership form to ensure agreement with the religious order to be members the group;
4) Only those who fly the denominational flag, and believe their interpretation of “spiritual matters regarding faith," can be fellowshipped. In other words, unity is understood and made possible because of doctrinal agreement.
To the institutional mentality, "unity" only has to exist in "people of like faith," that is approved by the denominational hierarchy. The basic purpose of the "denomination" is to control the people so that they believe and practice what is set forth by the leadership as truth.
De-flocking those that do not believe the denominational "articles of faith" is absolutely necessary to the preservation of the "denomination." In their understanding, this is "keeping the unity of the Spirit." If the congregation divides, each denomination sees the other as "somewhat false" and bound to perdition, while they, themselves, feel confident that they have done what God wills, as this is keeping God's people unified!
The first King David said it simply: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psa. 133:1). The second "King David" prayed while in the garden that God's people "may all be one...that the world may believe that thou didst send me" (John 17:21). Further He says; "And the glory which thou hast given me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that you didst send me, and loves them, even as you love me" (John 22-23).
With His earthly life coming to a close Jesus prayed fervently for the unity of His Church. It is a shame and a disgrace to the gospel that many people professing to be followers of Jesus are divided into denominational sects instead of working toward the realization of the “Head” of the Churches’ prayer to be one. Is it any wonder that most of the world does not believe!
We must be aware of the wrongfulness of this mentality. It goes without saying that the squabbling and divisions are not of God, but are the workings of Satan. They are nothing less than sinful works of the flesh.