I have always tried to keep politics out of the pulpit but, I couldn’t help reflecting that this summer has been a sad one for the Labour Party. The infighting between members of Momentum and Progress has led to a bruising leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith.
Whatever your political views, in this country, we need an opposition party to hold our government to account and to raise the awkward questions that need to be asked. The big challenge now for Labour is can they unite to do this?
The phrase “united we stand, divided we fall” dates back as far as Aesop’s fables (about 6th Century BC) and it holds true today. Jesus certainly echoes that thought when He said;
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
(Mark 3 vs. 24)
How do you take a group of people who, essentially, hold the same “big” values and ideals but disagree on the “smaller” values and ideals and unite them? This is not a new problem it is a challenge that has faced the Church for centuries.
On the night on which He was betrayed, Jesus spent time in the garden of Gethsemane praying for His disciples and for the generations to come, who would believe in Him (the Church) and this is what He prayed;
I pray that they will all be one
(John 17 vs. 24 NLT)
I want to offer these thoughts to you as I have struggled with the concept of unity.
- Unity Is Not The Same As Uniformity
In other words, we don’t have to totally agree with each other. We can hold differing views, differing opinions. As long as we believe the same essential truth we can work together. For Christians, we hold Jesus as Lord and Saviour and the Trinity as our essential truths, those are our points of unity. Type of music, style of service are things we can hold differing views about.
- Unity Cannot Be Imposed
Organizations that try to impose unity “from above” (a top down approach) do not achieve unity. Unity is achieved when it comes from the “bottom up”. Unity, a desire to work with others, begins in our own hearts. We must hear the prayer of Jesus and commit ourselves to fulfill His desire that we should be one.
- Unity Takes Commitment
Unity doesn’t just happen, it takes commitment, effort and energy. We have to be more willing to listen than to speak, in fact the Bible says;
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
(James 1 vs. 19)
In my own experience, I have found the struggle of unity to be frustrating and disappointing at times but I am committed to Jesus prayer, and so unity is important to me.