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National Unity
First Posted by Robert Certain on Sunday Jan. 21, 2018

    Unity is a choice

    Unity is a choice, as is disunity. The history of human relationships with God and each other is full of choices, some wisely made, some leading to destruction. When the Hebrews began to enter the Promised Land, Joshua warns them to choose whom they would serve. The history of the people of God is that they do not always choose well. When the Temple is built under King Solomon, he prays to God, but also speaks to the people. He bids God to choose the people; and that the people will choose God daily, to be followers of the One True God, not so much for themselves but that the nations of the world will see the wondrous things done by God, and will in turn seek to follow Him.

    In the Christian Scriptures, Paul, as a prisoner on the way to Rome, writes about choosing to put on the armor of God – to clad yourself with the virtues of Godly living: truth, righteousness, peace – like a soldier puts on a flak vest and helmet, and takes up his weapons.

    When Jesus says to eat his body and to drink his blood for eternal life, many of his followers choose to leave him. When he asks the Twelve if they will leave, Peter says “where would we go to find life if we do not stay with you?” It is a choice he makes, the choice we must make, for unity.

    Unity is not about feeling good; it is about service to God. Paul reminds us that we are to be a body, with each tissue, organ, and system healthy and working – each different from the other, each in need of all else. Unity does not mean sameness, it does not mean that we all think alike, look alike, or hold the same values, opinions, yearnings, hopes or dreams. It means instead that we are a cohesive whole, honoring each other’s difference, see that difference as an expansion and enlargement of what the Kingdom of God is and can be. And we seek the truth of God in the mix as we stay, work, believe, and worship together.

    Even though e pluribus unum is on the Seal of the United States, we often forget that we are both many and one, and fail to consider the values, principles, hopes, dreams, and dedication to public service of people offering themselves for election, particularly during a presidential election year. Instead we attack their person. Instead of evaluating their goals, we condemn their character. Instead of seeing candidates as citizens of this nation and brothers or sisters by choice or by birth, we dismiss them as irrelevant at best and evil at worst. The truth is that none of us has the whole answer; none of us has the complete truth. We need to listen to one another, not to find fault, but to find ways to work together for unity and the well-being of the nation. We need to find out what the point is before we condemn the person. We need to identify ways in which each makes the other whole and then to seek the greatest good for the greatest number.

    This nation was founded to be unified under the Constitution and the laws of the land, not by our opinions or viewpoints. When the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court rate in the confidence of the citizenry as the least respected institutions of the nation, we are in sad shape. When some of the finest leaders we know refuse to offer themselves for elected office because they do not want to put their families through the nastiness of an election cycle, it is scandalous. We are a people to be unified, but not the same, to live in cohesion as one nation. We are to seek the good of the whole, to bind up wounds, to be reconciled with one another, to make a nation that people around the world, as well as our own citizens, can admire and model and seek for peace and justice and good will.

    In order to do that we cannot insist on sameness, but we must find cohesion. That is a choice – in our families, our neighborhoods, our churches, our businesses, and our government. And it is a choice we make over and over again. Because we are one body, we are all part of it. And each part is vital for the health of the whole. It is not a good thing when we as a people have no contention among us. If we really believe in something, if we are passionate about something, we get loud. In the midst of that loudness, we must listen for our common purpose. We do not find unity by ignoring others or by throwing others out or by leaving ourselves or rejoicing that others have left. We find unity by sitting at the same table, by engaging in respectful conversation, by sharing the same food, recognizing that the Body of Christ has many organs, all of which have unique purposes, and if any are missing, the body is not whole, wholesome, or healthy.

    Christians ask the Holy Spirit to gather us together in unity, not just in families or in church, but in this nation. We find unity best by focusing on Christ alone and trusting Christ’s sovereignty. We find unity best by loving our neighbors even as much as we love ourselves. We seek unity not so we can feel good about each other but to show the power of God in the world, to show the world how we can live together in our differences, to show the world that our differences enhance our unity, not subtract from it, that our differences broaden our horizons and do not limit them. We do that so the world can know God and worship God, may come to know God because of who and how we are – just as Solomon prayed when he dedicated the Temple.

    In the Christian scriptures, we read that people remarked about the early church: “See how they love one another” – I choose to be part of that. See how all these people work together for common purposes – I choose to be part of that. See how all these people are formed in unity by the Holy Spirit and make a complete picture of Body of Christ – I choose to be part of that. I choose to be part of a family, a church, and a nation that always seeks to find unity, not sameness, to build up and establish Kingdom of God on earth.

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