Joel Sarli was Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and the second editor of Elder’s Digest when this article was written.

There are many divisive forces at work today which threaten the unity of the church. Because unity was of such importance, Jesus at the close of His ministry on earth made it the central subject of His priesthood prayer.

In our time, all the means of communication are being used by unfaithful members to give wide publicity to the supposed or imagined faults of the brethren, misinterpreting their motives, circulating insinuations, arousing suspicion, and in every conceivable manner breaking down confidence in the integrity of the leaders and destroying the unity of the Advent Movement.

It is the responsibility of every true elder to guard the flock against the attack of these enemies, for such they are regardless of their profession. Amid the perils of the last days every faithful shepherd will endeavor earnestly and perseveringly to keep the flock united when in danger of being caught and torn by ravenous wolves.

"As we approach the last crisis," wrote Ellen C. White, "it is of vital importance that harmony and unity exist among the Lord's instrumentalities. The world is filled with storm and war and variance. . . . While he [the great apostate] seeks to unite his agents in warring against the truth he will work to divide and scatter  its advocates. . . . The members of Christ's church have the power to thwart the purpose of the adversary of souls. At such a time as this let them not be found at variance with another or with any of the Lord's workers. Amidst the general discord let there be one place where harmony and unity exists because the Bible is made the guide of life." Testimonies, Vol. 7, p. 182.

"We are coming to a time when, more than ever before, we shall need to press together, to labor united. In union there is strength. In discord and disunion there is only weakness. . . . Press together, press together, press together. Do not let Satan cast his hellish shadow between brethren. Press together; in unity there is strength." _ Testimonies, Vol. 7, p. 374.

That "one place" should be the Seventh-day Adventist Church. "Unity is the strength of the church. Satan knows this, and he employs his whole force to bring in dissension. . . . Great attention should be given to the subject of unity." Selected Messages, Vol. 2, pp. 1 59, 1 60.

When elders, pastors, and church members are living in harmony with God, they will be in harmony with one another. Someone has illustrated the principle of unity by the spokes in a wheel. The spokes come closer together as they near the hub. In like manner the people of God come closer to one another as they come closer to Him and become more like Him in character.

Dear elder, strive to reach this divine ideal in your congregation. Remember that there is strength in harmony and unity.

Joel Sarli