Wednesday, February 5, 2014
To Be or Not to Be in Unity
By Micky Wolf
Was having coffee with a friend recently and at one point the conversation went something life this:
“We seem to come from entirely different perspectives. Not sure that is so good, at least when it comes to trying to work together,” she said.
Without hesitation I responded, “And that, dear friend, is probably the best reason why we need to.”
“You know, you do have a point.”
It was not lost on either of us that unity is vital in most circumstances where people hope to dialogue effectively, solve problems, or simply spend time together. And that has never been more necessary or true these days, especially for those of us who consider ourselves Christians.
For starters, if you and I desire to be in unity, we have to let go of the idea that we need to be in lock-step agreement with one another in every aspect of our every thought or feeling.
What we do need to strive for is keeping God, or the Divine principles, at the center of our relationship. When that happens, any difference of perspective that you or I express will be just that—a seeing or understanding of a situation or issue that emerges out of the knowledge, wisdom, or experiences particular to our life.
Unity is not uniformity and the definition really emphasize this point—a totality of related parts; an entity that is a complex or systematic whole. (Merriam-Webster)
For example: there is a special relationship of each of the fingers on my right hand to the larger entity of my arm and then to the greater extent of my entire body. It takes only a moment to notice that a hand of all thumbs (okay, there are days when it seems to be true) would be ineffective, to say the least.
Jesus and the Gospel writers go to great lengths to impress upon us the importance of recognizing and taking responsibility for what each of us uniquely brings to the larger Body of Christ. Furthermore, he wastes little time in exhorting each of us to be who God has created us to be.
The beauty of related parts…
If unity is defined as an entity that is a complex or systematic whole, that is never been more evident—or most obviously absent—than when applied to various political, intellectual, religious groups, or organizations.
How many times how we watched members of Congress painfully demonstrate the kind of discord and lack of acceptance or understanding of another person’s perspective? The failure to see themselves as related parts too often prevents meaningful dialogue—which means problems are not resolved and the American people suffer the consequences.
The same can be said for various corporations, local governing bodies, even the public school system down the street. When we fail to realize, often with disdain, that we are all part of something larger and more important, the totality of our being able to relate to one another is swept to the curb along with the other trash.
So, back to the earlier conversation. My friend and I have a long history of bringing different perspectives to most of the tables we have shared—coffee, ministry, or otherwise. And yet, we have persevered through it all. Why? There are numerous reasons, not the least of which we believe is based on the fact God is the one who brought us together in the first place.
And yet, there’s another basic concept inherent in living and working in unity which is the one I hoped to bring to her attention that day: I need who and what she brings to the table, she needs who and what I bring—and God desires and hopes both of us will fully commit to being part of the complex and systemic whole that is the entity 0f the Body of Christ.
There is no doubt that making the choice to live in unity and then doing it, whether with a spouse, our family, coworkers, or ministry team will present plenty of challenges. However, as complicated as these issues may seem, it really boils to a couple of important choices—listen, learn, ask for clarity, listen some more, observe, notice, and above all—acknowledge that variety is truly the spice and essence of life and being human, and in being created in the image and likeness of God.
Differences can be, if we allow them to be—huge blessings. Each one can help us be and become a more compassionate person, a more loving Christian. When we say yes to being part of this process, the benefits to everyone involved will far exceed what each of us could aspire to alone.
Do I understand the true meaning of unity?
How do I feel about being in meaningful relationship with those who have a different perspective than mine?
Do I believe I have something unique and beautiful to contribute in developing unity?