Every race and culture has a way of saying “Unity Is Strength”. For the Chinese it is “团结就是力量”. However, many divides still exist within countries and the world as a whole. There is the “fiscal cliff” concern in the US, wars in the Middle East, disputes over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, the widening gulf between rich and poor nations, social unrest in many parts of the world due to income inequalities and austerity measures, and the list goes on. How can the world be more united?
In Luke 11:17 and Matt 12:25 Jesus said, ”Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.” and in Luke 11:23 and Matt 12:30 He said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.” Those who are not with Jesus will eventually end up following the idols of money, selfishness, power, and domination over others, essentially paths that lead to isolation and death.
St. Paul was a great advocate of unity in the church. In 1 Cori 1:10 Paul said, ”I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” St. Peter also spoke about unity in 1 Peter 3:8 where he said, “Finally, all of you have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” The secret of achieving unity is to become one in Christ. In 1 Cori 12: 12-13 St. Paul said, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
The book of Isaiah 11:1-10 gives us an idea of what life will be like in God’s kingdom. Everything is in its place and in peace with each other. “The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will rest beside the kid, the calf and the lion cub will feed together and a little child will lead them.” (Isa. 11:6) Only with eyes and ears of faith will we be able to discern what the prophets and kings tried in vain to see and hear (Luke 10:23-24).
To become one in Christ entails making Him the centre of our lives and trusting Him with all our hearts (Psal. 16, Pro. 3: 1-35). Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Jesus taught that God wants to care for us, protect us, and help us; but to do that we must fully submit to His will and “seek” Him first in our lives. Similarly, the book of Ecclesiastes concluded that fearing God and keeping His commandments is the duty of all mankind (Ecc 12:13).
From the book of Exodus we learn how the Israelites became more united when they made God the centre of their lives. God brought them through the Red Sea and then told them, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” (Ex. 15:26). When they arrived at Sinai, God told them, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine” (Ex. 19:5). After some time, the Israelites began to get it. You can imagine families working happily and diligently together as they prepared the Tabernacle and the furnishings for it. Everyone was centred on serving God. Then when the Tabernacle was finished, and in Numbers chapter 2 the instructions for the Israelite camp were given, we see where the Tabernacle was to be located. God was at the centre of their very lives. If we could stand on a mountain overlooking the Israelite camp, we would see all of the Israelite tribes encamped around the Tabernacle of God which would be located in the very centre of the camp. It was symbolic. Just as God was dwelling in the centre of His people in the Tabernacle, God dwells at the very centre of every Israelite’s being.
We must remember that the way the Israelites were to live, obey, and dedicate themselves to God in the wilderness was a type of foreshadowing of how we should live out our Christian lives. St. Paul spoke of their experiences and said, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” (1 Cor. 10:11). God loves us! He wants us to love Him, trust Him, and completely dedicate our lives to Him. Living our lives with God as the centre of our being only when it is convenient for us will not do. God will not settle for that since He only wants good things for us and the only way for us to live our lives to the fullest is by putting Him at the centre of everything we do, think or say. Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection is the way God manifested His awesome love and dedication for us, human beings (1 John 4:9-10). Obeying God and making Him the centre of our lives, our families, and our community is how we can respond to His love for us, so that He may abide in us and make us one in Him.