Years ago, while I was serving as a youth pastor in Edina, Minnesota, I would take the youth group on a weeklong canoeing adventure to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). I would purposely make sure that the most inexperienced paddlers were in my canoe or the canoe of another strong paddler. Why, because it takes lots of patience and practice to learn how to paddle together. Unity is critical and is something you must learn and choose. When facing ten-mile-long Knife Lake into 20 mph headwinds unity makes all the difference. It’s a beautiful thing to see unity in action.
King David painted a beautiful word picture of this unity in Psalm 133 writing...
“Behold, how good and how pleasant & beautiful it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon, coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing-- life forever”.
David was recalling a scene with obvious affection—the high priest being anointed with oil. He remembered the oil poured over his head, running down his beard and onto his robes and he used this picture to poetically portray how unity overflows to others -- a picture he portrays as wonderfully refreshing. Unity is refreshing and beautiful!
The Puritan Thomas Brooks rightly stated "Discord and division become no Christian. For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous."
Thomas à Kempis wrote that "If Christ is amongst us, then it is necessary that we sometimes yield up our own opinion for the sake of peace. Who is so wise as to have perfect knowledge of all things? Therefore trust not too much to thine own opinion, but be ready also to hear the opinions of others.
D L Moody said, "There are two ways of being united -- one is by being frozen together, and the other is by being melted together. What Christians need is to be united in brotherly love, and then they may expect to have power."
Let me share with you a powerful example of seeking unity. During World War II, Hitler commanded all religious groups to unite so that he could control them. Among the Brethren assemblies, half complied and half refused. Those who went along with the order had a much easier time. Those who did not, faced harsh persecution. In almost every family of those who resisted, someone died in a concentration camp.
When the war was over, feelings of bitterness ran deep between the groups and there was much tension. Finally, they decided that the situation had to be healed. Leaders from each group met at a quiet retreat. For several days, each person spent time in prayer, examining his own heart in the light of Christ’s commands. Then they came together.
Francis Schaeffer, who told of the incident, asked a friend who was there, “What did you do then?” “We were just one,” he replied. As they confessed their hostility and bitterness to God and yielded to His control, the Holy Spirit created a spirit of unity among them. Love filled their hearts and dissolved their hatred.
When love prevails among believers, especially in times of strong disagreement, it presents to the world an indisputable mark of a true follower of Jesus Christ. They will know we are Christ followers by our love.
Shalom, Pastor Garry
“with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3