September 17, 1996
After someone dubbed it “The Unity Train,” Quebec Premier Lucian Bouchard refused to ride it from Edmonton to Jasper with the other leaders. Apparently he did not want to give the wrong impression to his constituents in Quebec.
Political unity is a scarce commodity. It is also rare in other realms. Social workers do not agree on priorities. Business people do not agree on procedures. Married couples do not agree on many things and children argue over which channel to watch. Agreement brings pleasant emotions though some argue if two people agree on everything, one of them is not necessary!
Unity sounds great but is not easily defined. Besides, agreeing on every detail is impossible. Unity depends more on a single purpose or a commitment to agree on one goal. For instance, politicians all want economic prosperity. So do businesspeople. Couples all want happiness for their family. All children want to have fun. However, people who agree on basic goals often disagree on the best way to reach them.
Although God commands unity among His people, it is no secret that Christians have conflicting views. Some argue over petty issues such as the colors used to decorate a sanctuary. Others argue over issues that may seem more important. Yet God puts a greater priority on oneness. Psalm 133 says, “It is good and pleasant when God’s people dwell together in unity.”
The psalmist likens harmony to mountain dew that waters desert cities and to anointing oil used in the Old Testament for consecrating priests. Together, these word pictures suggest that unity is not only refreshing but connected to a commitment.
For instance, those who make a deep commitment to Christ initially find oneness among themselves. This single-mindedness comes from God. 2 Chronicles 30:12 says, “In Judah, the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the LORD.”
However, while God gives a spirit of unity, His people are responsibility to maintain it. Otherwise, people of faith become more focused on their differences than their common purpose. God says, “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
When unity is so desirable, why do people fight? Psychologists and analysts give varying reasons, but the Bible says, “Don’t (fights and quarrels) come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it... you quarrel and fight... when you ask (God) you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Selfishness is at the heart of disunity.
Romans 15 says God gives a spirit of unity to those who follow Him but those who follow their own desires have stopped following Him and put themselves outside His promises. Psalm 133 ends by saying “the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore” where there is unity. Conversely, unity is a mark of His blessing on people who have everlasting life. If unity and eternal life are partners and the first is a characteristic of the second, then Christians who fight are making mockery of their own profession of faith. This is why unity is so important. It makes the Gospel more believable, more appealing to others.
Jesus prayed, “May they (His followers) be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” Without unity, we deny Christ came. When we fight, we are telling the world that God does not really love us.
If Christians want to make Christ known, we must be united. How can we expect our political leaders to have unity if we who claim to know the Source bicker with each other?