Monday, August 10, 2015

Creating Unity ................ Parables 311

March 31, 1992

A Moose Jaw journalist recently noted that two-dollar wheat prices have bridged the generation gap between old and young farmers. Now they are all in the same boat and have something to talk about.

There are certain situations in life that tend to do just that — bring people together. One of them is a mutual problem, in this case the struggle to survive in a profession threatened by European grain subsidies, something neither young or old can do anything about.

Other situations that brings people together are happy events and sad events: weddings, births, graduations and funerals, recovery and illness, sunshine and tornadoes. National celebrations can do it too: Christmas, Easter, even Canada Day.

As humans, we tend to need something to push us into harmony. Fighting is easier, especially if the other person is different in some way than we are, a threat to us. Older people get pushed out by up-and-coming youth; young people feel intimidated by the confidence of the experienced. Men feel put-down by women; women feel put-down by men. Children are ostracized by each other on the playgrounds and in the classroom. Conflict is so common. Unity does not happen as easily.

In spite of how we can argue and drive wedges through the heart of our relationships, God intended people relate to one another harmoniously. He desires unity, a we are in this together attitude that shows itself in the way we treat one another.

However, while outside events can serve as a catalyst, the unity God has in mind is not one forced by externals. Rather, because we are made in His image, He wants us to reflect the unity He Himself experiences in His own nature. He is a God of various attributes and distinctive qualities (just as we are a variety of people) yet He is in complete harmony with Himself, all the time, no matter what is happening in His world. Furthermore, His unity is as much a part of His nature as our propensity to fight and disagree is a part of ours.

The Bible has a lot to say about that kind of unity: it is commanded; Jesus prayed that we would have it and He even provided it — but it certainly does not happen without our resistance. Doesn’t resistance seem strange, given the pleasure and security we enjoy when we have peace with other people?

Perhaps we do not fight unity directly but indirectly. Remember, it is a unity that does not depend on externals. Instead, it depends on the internal reality of His Spirit in control of our lives. It is that control that we fight, just as we resist attempts by anyone or anything else to control us.

The possibility of this unity is not the only appeal for non-resistance to God but it is a valid appeal. Without His unity, Paul says, “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?”

If Christians depend on externals for agreement, then we are acting like everyone else and simply denying the power of God to bring unity. When that happens, then calamities like $2 wheat prices are the only forces that can bring us together.

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