ThoughtShades FrameWork

Essays, Themes, Opinions

Constructs, Practical Ideas, Applications

Poetry, Impression Writing

Sermons, Devotions

Personal Revelations, Illustrations

Viewpoint: Politics, Contemporary Issues, Editorials


Choice Offerings by Others

Powered by Squarespace
« Defending Yourself against Telemarketers | Main | Tips for Writing Letters and Articles »

The Unity Concept

choirphoto1.jpgMaybe I shouldn’t, but when unity platitudes start floating around a group of Christians, a little squeamishness begins to roll around in my borderline nauseous stomach. Often, the well-intentioned proponent subtly denigrates the practice of differentiating between beliefs as small-minded and spiritually immature, even if it is to preserve clear doctrinal truths and scriptural commands. If only we were big enough, so the argument goes, we would value love and unity above and beyond our parochial hang-ups. Some unity enthusiasts have no convictions that they wouldn’t readily sacrifice on the altar of compromise if they thought it would gain them the approval of the masses. Their concessions cheapen true unity.

Real unity is anything but cheap. It costs us our pride, our traditions, and our self-centeredness. We have to let go of individual egos, long-held notions and personal preferences. Nevertheless, we must aspire for unity in the church. We can pay the price without compromising one iota of truth. True unity is worth whatever it takes to get it. Deep down, I think everyone understands this. The problem, however, lies in the substitutes for unity. We are apt to stop our quest at a place that looks a lot like, but lacks the real essence of, true unity. At least five levels of unity emerge from the chaos to name themselves for us. We must press on through the first four to arrive at the fifth.

Coalition . In the first gulf war, President George Bush (forty-one) put together a group of thirty-five nations to liberate Kuwait from Iraq . The odd collection of nations included not just our friends from Canada and the United Kingdom , but also Egypt , Syria and Saudi Arabia . We cooperated with one another for one purpose only, defeating Saddam Hussein. But the church cannot be satisfied with this kind of unity. A coalition only suspends hostilities long enough to get one thing done. After that, it’s back to belligerence.

Consonance . In the music world, sounds which seem “stable” to the ear are said to be in consonance. They are not necessarily breathtaking combinations of tones or notes, but at least they don’t seem to be fighting with each other as they would be if they were dissonant sounds. The most important thing one can say about consonance is that it eliminates tension. That’s good, but the church must be more than a collection of passive individuals who simply prefer to co-exist without conflict.

Unison . Again, from the music world, when everyone in the room sings the exact same note, they are said to be singing in unison. This sometimes helps when learning a new song, or to vary a choir number, but unison gets boring in a hurry. Besides, every voice can’t reach every note. In the church, unity that forces everyone into an identical mold is an unrealistic and unworkable expectation. While we all abide by the same spiritual principles, we all bring something unique to the table.

Harmony . This may seem like the best way to achieve true unity. What can be more pleasing than complementary sounds blended together in beautiful orchestration? Soprano, tenor, alto and bass in harmony with each other do represent a fullness of sound, but they fall short of the unity ideal. Even in harmony, voices can vary in quality to the point that the song fails to please the ears of the audience. Harmony may be a necessary part of unity, but true unity needs something more.

Oneness . When a church achieves oneness, it soars above all the intermediate levels of unity and becomes a force in the community. Oneness means “one for all and all for one.” Oneness means sharing in goals, ideals and principles. Oneness voices no preferences for who does what, who succeeds where or how evenly the glory gets distributed. Oneness says “I win when you win.” Oneness overrides holdouts, dissension, bruised feelings or petty differences in order to succeed. Oneness senses a need to resolve—not tolerate, hang on to, or ignore— all its conflicts for the sake of victory.

The Tower of Babel would have succeeded without divine intervention. “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Genesis 11:6). On the day of Pentecost, the people were in one mind and one accord just before a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In his high-priestly prayer, Jesus prayed “that they all may be one.” How many teams have lost games or championships, how many armies have lost battles or wars, how many corporations have suffered humiliating bankruptcy because one or more members refused to be team conscious?

Without exception, every single team member must sacrifice something in order for the whole team to succeed. Unity will not succeed under any other circumstances. It’s not only when you contribute something, but it is also when you sacrifice something, that you eliminate obstacles to victory. Only then can we answer Christ’s prayer for unity.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (1)

Wow. Your vision of Oneness is beautiful.

October 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim Garcia

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>