As One

Both the Old and New Testaments have a lot to say on the subject of unity. A study of this topic reveals that it is part of God’s design for his creation that his people will live together in harmony. He designed us to need each other. When you explore spiritual gifts as outlined in Romans 12, you can see his big plan…each one of us is a part of a greater whole. Each must do his part for the entire body to function well. This requires that we work together toward the mission that God has given us.

God also made each one of us to be unique. Our diversity can be our greatest strength, yet it is often our diversity that tears us apart. Free will affords us the opportunity to think differently, read differently, interpret differently, respond differently, and form different opinions and passions than our fellow believers.

Many think that in our current culture, unity is impossible to achieve. I disagree.

My cockeyed optimism leads me to hope that we can celebrate our differences as we work toward a mutual goal. Sometimes that requires people to focus on the singular mission and lay down the differences that separate us.

Other times that requires a clean and healthy separation of groups so that different-leaning sides might each prosper toward the singular goal, in a “divide and conquer” kind of way.

Psalm 133 elevates the unity of families. Living together as one is likened to expensive oil lavished upon a leader’s head…so lavish that it drips even down to the collar.

Psalm 133 (Common English Bible)

Look at how good and pleasing it is
    when families live together as one!
It is like expensive oil poured over the head,
    running down onto the beard—
        Aaron’s beard!—
    which extended over the collar of his robes.

This ability to live together as one is as pleasing as a refreshing dew streaming on a mountain, and forecasts the blessing of eternal life.

It is like the dew on Mount Hermon
    streaming down onto the mountains of Zion,
    because it is there that the Lord has commanded the blessing:
        everlasting life.

Living together as one does not imply robotic thinking of a singular hive-mentality. It is presumed that within the camp there will be different needs, different graces, different opinions, and different abilities. But when the families commit to finding the oneness of a common goal, it is pleasing and good.

All believers share a common goal: to proclaim Christ crucified. Every camp is called to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We are all tasked with baptizing, teaching his commandments, and telling everything we know about his salvation.

God so loved the WORLD (in all of its diversity) that he gave his only Son. That is our story and our mission. May we learn to set our differences aside as we focus on the unity of our calling.

That the World Through Him Might be Saved by Michelle Robertson

Singular Vision

Can you name a time in your life when you were part of a group that had a single purpose or goal? Even in the most highly trained sports team, the most gifted singing group, or the greatest work division the company ever put together, it is hard to find a group that doesn’t have some element of individualism, ego need, or competitiveness that ruins the unity.

Such it is with life.

The disunity that plagues the church in this season comes after many such moments in its history. Issues over slavery, racism, property rights, women’s rights (including ordination), ecclesial structure, hierarchy, and issues surrounding human sexuality have been present in most denominations since the first day they were formed. In my denomination these disputes have caused schisms, mergers, closures, and the re-writing of our Book of Discipline every four years. And there is more to come.

What does scripture say about unity in the body of believers?

Paul wrote a letter to the church at Philippi in anticipation of a visit there. But in the meantime, he had words of instruction for the people:

Philippians 1 (The Message)

27-30 Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ. Let nothing in your conduct hang on whether I come or not. Your conduct must be the same whether I show up to see things for myself or hear of it from a distance.

Stand united, singular in vision, contending for people’s trust in the Message, the good news, not flinching or dodging in the slightest before the opposition.

Your courage and unity will show them what they’re up against: defeat for them, victory for you—and both because of God. There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.

We would do well to heed Paul’s words. The issues that divide us cannot be stronger than the message that unites us. We are called to make a witness to the world and contend for their TRUST in the message we are sent to deliver. It is a message of hope. It is a message of the good news of the resurrection. It is a message of peace. It is a message of God’s singular vision for the world…that all who believe in Jesus shall not perish, but have everlasting life. That is our singular vision.

It is worth setting aside our individual goals, ego needs, and competitiveness so that we might win the world for Christ. It will take our courage and our unity. Most of all it will take humility.

We are suffering right now, but if we focus on the singular vision of winning the world to Jesus, we can gain the trust of the people as we put our trust in God.

Meanwhile, live your life in such a way that you will be a credit to the cause of Christ. The world is watching.

Focused by Sharon Tinucci