"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21).
In this high priestly prayer in John Chapter 17, Jesus prayed for unity among believers five times, that they might have unity with each other (vv. 11, 20, 22), unity in the Father and the Son (v. 21), and the mutual unity that the Father has in the Son and the Son has in the church (v. 23).
Earlier in John, the disciples were exhorted to a higher standard when He commanded them to "love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (13:34). Jesus knew the incredible impact that their Christ-like, loving unity would have on a lost world, that "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (v. 35).
While it is essential for us to strive for loving unity in the body of Christ, we must also recognize that true Biblical unity is predicated on "unity of the Spirit" (Ephesians 4:3) and "unity of the faith" (v. 13). In other words, unity without truth or sound doctrine is not Biblical unity at all. In fact, just as Paul urges us to have "no divisions among you" (I Corinthians 1:10), he also cautions us to "mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" (Romans 16:17).
As we strive to love one another and "be perfectly joined together" (I Corinthians 1:10), we should also be committed to "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15), not "handling the word of God deceitfully" (II Corinthians 4:2), and earnestly contending for the faith (Jude 3). It is only when we balance truth and love that we can have true unity in Christ. MDR