“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.” 2 Corinthians 13:11
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14
Unity. I think, maybe we would love it if life was filled with people who think like we do. Who act like we think everyone should act. Who are responsible in the way we define what it means to be responsible. Who, for the most part live in a way that we think is an acceptable way to live and do life.
But…God created a world that is filled with diversity. Just take a look around you at the different plants, animals, and of course, people. And even if we looked exactly alike, we would still be different because we would have different experiences. And those experiences give us, each one of us, a different world view. And I personally love it! Diversity keeps life interesting, unique, and filled with new experiences.
Back to unity and here’s the thing: There is no way we can be unified if we define the word as the absence of diversity, unvaried or uniform in character. And thank you dictionary.com for the definition. I would add to this that when we think of unity as it pertains to a room full of people, we also tend to think that it means we are all like-minded.
This I why I love how Paul talks about unity in Romans 12: 4 – 6a: “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the other. WE have different gifts, according to the grace given us…”
We are all different. We need to be. We meet different needs within the body of Christ and within our communities. We are not all created the same. BUT…in Christ we can all be one. Unified.
How, you may ask? Well, first of all we accept each other in love. We learn from each other, and we get to know one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We all have our unique personalities. We all have our quirks. But in Christ, we can all get along even when we disagree on certain issues. And, we get along, because we are unified in Christ.
I hope you caught the theme of that last paragraph. Everything we do is “in Christ” and because everything we do, everything we say or act upon is done “in Christ” we are doing everything with love for the other person. We don’t have to agree on everything to be unified because we are unified in Christ. Christ is our unifying point of connection.
What does this mean for our everyday life and interactions with others? Well, it means that when people cut you off in traffic, instead of getting mad and judging their driving, you stop and say a short prayer for them to arrive safely to their destination. You have no idea if they are hurrying to be by the bedside of their dying parent or if they are just a bad driver. It doesn’t matter. We pray instead of judge. It means that when someone is being very unkind toward you, (and please know, this is both really hard and important) you pray for them and what they must be going through that they are taking their bad day out on you. You offer grace.
Here is what I know, when I am gracious toward others, I can turn around a bad interaction into a good one. One that allows the other to calm down and get to the root of their frustration or whatever other emotion they are feeling and that has erupted in anger. Because the thing to remember is that anger is always a secondary emotion. Their anger is rooted in something else that is going on in their lives. And unless they share that information with us, our best response is to offer up a prayer for them and for us to stay calm and collected so we can be unified through our bond in Christ. We offer grace.
Unity doesn’t mean we agree on everything. God created a beautiful and diverse world. Unity means we love one another in all circumstances as we live our lives in Christ.