Wednesday, May 12, 2021. How is unity achieved in a group, or in a society? There are very different ways how people try to reach this goal. But before we discuss approaches, let us aks why we should or want to reach any type of unity? Wouldn't it be better to have diversity? Why all the same? Why all to agree on a particular topic?
The situation is not simple. Even those who want diversity often try to establish unity in the judgement of their particular understanding, and fight all who do not share their view. It is interesting that the 21st century brings new discussions about unity, uniformity and diversity. A particular view of diversity is the new unity - and be careful if you do not share this view!
Very different People Called to Unity …
There is the biblical call to unity as well. We will read it in a moment, in the version written by the apostle Paul in the letter to the church in Ephesus. It is unity which is established by the link to God, through the holy spirit. It is not unity of a topic, nor is it unity of interest, hobby, background. Let us look into Ephesians first:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4, 1-6)
There are many people on the planet. They are all different. They have different languages, different background, different taste, different preferences. People have different talent and different interests. Some like classical music, others do not. Some like Jazz, others don't. Some like meat, others do not.
What is it that can establish unity between very different people? Do we get unity only between people with the same ideology? Between those with the same hobby? Is unity limited to those who are alike, who feel sympathy towards each other? What type of unity can be achieved?
Here, people of faith are called to unity. They have the same God. They are still very different! So let us look into elements of this unity …
What type of Unity? …
The unity here is a unity of humility and gentleness. It is a unity based on a joint friend: the eternal Lord and God. His humility is the basis of our own humility. We could not do it without him. But with him, we can learn and develop!
The unity is a unity of patience. That is difficult. People can become a source of difficulty for us, in particular if they follow their own interest and do things their way. When we expect them to share information, they just move forward. When we expect them to take us into the game, they might want to avoid this and play the game their way. They might tell us things which hurt us. We try to forgive, and they even do not realize what they did wrong. They repeat their actions. How to stay patient under these conditions? Do you really want to stay patient? Yes, but how to confront them in an appropriate way?
The apostle talks about the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace. Here, we come to the core point. The unity as the bible commands can only be reached by the Holy Spirit. He is the spirit of God, the spirit of Jesus. Only in and through the spirit Christians can become one in spirit.
The good news is: it is really possible. The holy spirit can help, when we open our heart and our mind. It can help us to find a unity beyond understanding. It is a unity which surpasses all the differences. It does not destroy the differences, they still remain. But beyond these difficult points, a bond of peace can be established.
Does it work for you? To find unity in faith remains a challenge. We have so many different churches and groups within the churches. We have different opinions, different political viewpoints, different personality. Even between two arbitrary people in the church there will be all these separating elements. But there will also be a strong pull towards each other, when we find ourselves in the love of the eternal God. Here, with God, we see the limitations of our own existence, we see the illusions and the incompleteness of our ego and our desires. Here, we become complete, we find an eternal home, in the middle of this life. Unity is possible, in him, in Christ Jesus. (Roland Potthast)