Psalm 133:1 (KJV) – “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!“
I like this verse. I think that it speaks volumes of how God expects us to live – in unity.
Years ago, I saw these words superimposed on an aerial photo of a major state university stadium during a football game. With a great majority of the fans wearing the home team colors and cheering for the home team on a beautiful, blue-skyed day, this statement seemed to capture the moment quite well. But if you think about it, it is no wonder that the sentiment well matched the picture, because when we are “of like mind” regarding something (an idea, a belief, an opinion, a team, etc), it is quite easy to remain UNITED. But what about when we differ???
“United we stand, Divided we fall“. This mantra has been recited time and again throughout history – but it has most likely endured precisely because of the resounding truth stated therein. Most of us have heard the analogy put forth regarding the fact that individual sticks or fibers are easy to break, but several together provide added strength and are difficult to break (think of a rope, despite it being only a collection of relatively weak individual fibers, together they are made strong). So, too, this is true of people and their ideas, dreams, opinions. Centuries ago, small groups of people, tribes, villages endured despite the many challenges before them because they came together to seek a common direction, a common purpose, a common goal – they united. Later, as time went by, larger collections of people groups forged mighty nations built upon the bedrock of solidarity – unity – to support one another and fight for their survival and sustenance, their way of life. And largely today, we still see this “collectivism” playing out in our communities, our workplace, our world, where people come together to accomplish much more than each individual would or even could on their own. But things are a changin’ (as they say)…
Regrettably, with the continued rise of “individualism”, we are increasingly seeing many separate groups seeking to unite only their base so as to stand against other groups (yes, I am using a broad stroke to paint all of the different scenarios where this is happening). That is to say, “all for us and none for you” (instead of the famous rallying cry: “all for one and one for all”). There is a push to be wholly unique, separate, individual, “my own person”, “our own people”, so on and so forth. This is certainly evident in our politics today. However, more desperate than this, it is becoming a plague in our Christian churches today! It pains me to see/hear/experience the at-times subtle details that cause division within ranks who are supposedly seeking the same goal, espousing the same purpose. The minutia that seeks to rip apart brother from brother, sister from sister. It leaves me to ask – if we struggle to find unity in Christ’s church, then how do we expect to foster unity in the world? For you see, we must embody that which we seek to cast light unto. This calls for us to seek: Unity – in our marriage // Unity – in our home // Unity – in our communities // Unity – in our country // Unity – in the world —– and as proclaimed followers of Christ, Unity in our Church!
Now at this point, some of you have dismissed me or this post all together. Some of you might be inclined to roll your eyes thinking that I am some “Kumbaya” guy who is too naive to understand that the world is complex, people are complex, differences exist, blah blah blah. Others might be annoyed thinking that perhaps I am advocating for a world with no degree of individualism, with no contrasting opinions or ideas – of Orwellian government control and “doublethink” and “doublespeak“. Well, not true, on either count. I just firmly believe that we can be individuals who collectively contribute to the greater good (for all mankind) and that we are capable of disagreeing on various points, if not many, in an amicable way, without causing a great divide that jeopardizes our collective sustenance. (wow, that was a mouthful…!) But seriously, UNITY does not have to imply lack of differences, lack of opinions, lack of unique, individual characteristics. It simply calls for people to come together to focus on the goal, the prize, the main point, rather than getting hung up on the minutia of often times insignificant details! That’s all, please don’t read more into this.
I will admit that Unity, and its close cousin Harmony, are easy enough concepts to grasp on the surface, but they are quite difficult ideals to live out in earnest. But just because some things are difficult to achieve, does not mean that we should stop striving to reach them. So, let’s go seek us some UNITY! – and live the way God intended us to…
Well, more to come in subsequent posts….