Bread – Unity

October 9, 2009


Readings for Friday, October 9 as
designated by the Book of Common Prayer:
2 Kings 23:36-24:17; 1 Cor. 12:12-26; Matt. 9:27-34
Psalms 140, 141, 142, 143:1-12
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If one were to ask any group of people what they mean by "unity," you would probably get any number of answers, all of which would probably have the common element of "sameness."  For example, "unity means that everyone is heading in the same direction."  Another example, "Unity means that everyone believes the same thing."  Or, another example, "Unity means that we are doing the same things."

The connection of "unity" with "sameness" has some very negative consequences.  For example, for Americans to be "in unity," we must be "equal" (the same); therefore, women must act like men and men, women; therefore, all lifestyles must be equally acceptable (the "same").  If we do not follow along with the program, we are responsible for "disunity" and, since we do not naturally like disunity (because it leads to confrontation, disassociation, loss of community, loss of friendship, etc.), we must be "bad" people.

This idea of what unity means, however, is not God’s idea or prescription.  Instead, Paul speaks in today’s readings about what unity means — "But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body."  1 Cor. 12:18-20

The implications of this are enormous.  God has created diversity in purposes, in beliefs, in actions, in abilities, in functions, in positions, in talents, in knowledge, in wisdom, in spiritual gifts, in understanding, in love, in wealth, in power … for one purpose…. That there may be unity in Him, that there may be one functioning body, the Church united.  A Church united, not in sameness but in diversity, not in common beliefs but in a common God, not in common practices but in a common Holy Spirit, not in common direction but in a common eternity in Jesus Christ.

When we know God, have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and actively love and adore Him through obedience in the power of the Holy Spirit, when we are doing our part as a part of the Body, it is OK that someone else who is also part of the same body is doing something else, heading in a different direction, or stating a different belief.  If someone disagrees with me, maybe his or her role as part of the body is to bring me into greater love of God and/or my neighbor, to bring me into greater awareness of my own need of a Savior or the Holy Spirit, to bring into repentance, to bring me into greater understanding … or to bring themselves, using me as a source of light, into a better relationship.  If someone is granted headship in accordance with God’s instructions and order (such as receiving appointment as pastor, husband, or teacher) and I am not, perhaps it is because I am appointed to a different but equal role, recognizing that all parts of the body are essential to the health of the body.  If someone worships differently from me, perhaps it is because his or her role is to show me that there is one God but many ways to honor and worship Him and to bring me to greater appreciation that I am not God and my way is not His way.

Because those of us to worship God can recognize that there is indeed diversity in order, ranking, and purpose … that there are many parts of the body … we can be in fact the ones who are tolerant, who can say this definition of "Unity" — "Unity is diversity when blessed by God."  Who are "blessed by God" … those who have acknowledged that they are not God (that they are sin), who have trusted Jesus Christ’s finished work on the Cross to save them into eternal life, and who, as a result, have been "all baptized by one Spirit into one body." 1 Cor. 12:13

If we can accept that diversity is God’s definition of unity, then we can become tolerant of people and cultures who appear "different" than ours.  We can recognize that, since God is in control, God has a place for those people in the body as well.  And because we recognize that they serve a role, a role defined by God, we can love them with the love that God has shown us, even though they appear to be (and may in fact be) our enemies.

On the other hand, those people who define unity as sameness cannot be tolerant of someone else who is diverse.  As a result, although they may speak the language of tolerance, they in fact practice the language of anger, hatred, and conformity.

When most people who were not born in the United States come here, they are astounded at the degree of diversity.  In fact, we often speak of this diversity as a negative, as something which is tearing the country apart.  Instead, I would assert that our diversity is evidence of God’s blessing on this country, as long as it is diversity under God.

Knowing this, we should be incredibly thankful that our forefathers knew enough to inscribe into our currency, our national monuments, and throughout our laws – "In God We Trust."  Because once that common understanding is lost, our unity in diversity is also lost.

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One Response to “Bread – Unity”

  1. Sam Skelton Says:

    George,

    I’ve got two words:

    He’s coming!!!

    Again, you hit the hammer on the head of the nail (no pun intended) regarding “Transformation”. And we’d better be watching and we’d better be ready. All of those whose ears and eyes are closed; They will not like what they see, because it will be too late. I have some I know that I am praying for and trying to be available to in witness, hoping that the Lord might somehow speak to them thru me. Blessings, Sam


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