Unity. It is in the news a lot lately … or rather, disunity is in the news. The word itself reveals two key components: You and I.
You and I must be the foot soldiers of unity, but God is the originator and producer of it. Unity was the heart cry of Jesus Christ before He went to the Cross:
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. (John 17:21)
That prayer, though, is for those who believe in Jesus Christ, for unity is impossible without Him. Church, we have a major challenge!
There is a spirit of bitterness roaming the world today. When bitterness is allowed to grow unchecked, other nasty spirits develop: anger, hatred, murder. We can change that! The greatest power to change the world is not in mass rallies, protests or fighting. In fact, God has not called most of us to “major missions” or grand endeavors. The call of God is one-by-one so all can be reached. Unity begins with one person choosing to respond with the love of Christ no matter what is received. The power to change the atmosphere of hate is choosing Jesus moment-by-moment with each encounter we have throughout the day. When we Christians echo the cry of Jesus for unity–when we love God more than our opinions, our rights and our successes–we can annihilate the unholy spirits of bitterness, hate and murder.
Dis-unity reigns because we prefer ourselves. “Be humble thinking of others as better than yourself,” wrote Paul to the Church at Phillipi. “If my people will humble themselves and call upon my name, then will I heal their land,” said God to Solomon.
Humility requires us to empty ourselves of the “I”, so the Holy Spirit can fill us. Humility is the only way to unity. Without it, we all remain victims of our selves. Self insists on being respected. Self insists on its rights. Self claims pre-eminence in all things. There can be no unity when “I” is the reigning King.
Our hearts ache as we hear the latest headlines or watch the videos that starkly record unjust and evil actions. Our passion for justice rightly rises up. God is a just God. He does not rejoice in the wrongs that rage in our world. However, our vengeance can never set things straight. He alone is the answer; the wrath of man will never bring about the righteousness of God.
Unity does demand involvement from both You and I. You and I are equally, unconditionally loved by God and equally responsible for the way we respond to those in our lives. The privilege and responsibility of free will and choice looms large in unity. We can not choose how people treat us, but we can choose how we respond. Every individual response matters. Like the mustard seed that becomes a mighty tree (Matthew 13:31-2), each right choice offers hope and an answer to Christ’s prayer “that they might be one.”
When our passion is for Jesus Christ to reign as King of our lives, will we choose to respond with the same unconditional love He gives us. The only way Jesus can reign in our hearts is for us to be emptied of our personal demands. All-consuming passion for Him is the only way to unity.
When have you felt the sting of dis-respect and responded with the love of Christ?