Unity

Posted: July 10, 2020 in unity
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With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

Ephesians 1:8-10

Sometimes it seems as if we could define world history as one person or one group hating another. The pogroms, colonization, slavery, wars — we have bashed and dominated each other from the beginning. The ancient Dorian invasion, Anglo-Saxon warfare, the brutal Assyrians. The Vikings. It’s endless. The empire building Romans. The life-crushing colonial, mercantile dominance of Spain and then England. Japan and China. India and Pakistan. The horror — every era has its brutalities. Our bloody kin-on-kin, American versus American civil war. The 20th century was the worst with two world wars.

These days it is no different in the United Un-United States. The enemy is defined as a group, the other political party, the right, the left, the immigrants, the Russians, the Chinese, the Muslims.

But hatred, unjust wars — wars of protection differ from those of domination — patriarchy, racism, oppression of the weak and the poor do not in anyway fit with the purpose of Christ. Remember he came for all of us, for the other religious groups — remember Jesus and the Samaritans — for the sinners, the poor, for the disenfranchised, for those who are Jewish, for those who are Gentile. John says, “he did not come into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved.” Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors which he defined and modeled as including everyone.

Perhaps even we Christians are missing it. But he has “made known his will.” It may be a mystery as to who and perhaps even how but there is no mystery as to what. His will is unity. And His will is to be our will. Unity.

The fulfillment? When? Note Paul wrote about “times” of fulfillment, plural. Fulfillment began when Jesus came, and continued through all of history since then and continues now. God is on it. He is saving and unifying now. Are we? Love, the kingdom, this was never meant to be only future tense. There will be a completion to the process, a final fulfillment of unity, but the process began in Christ’s sacrifice for us that forgives and undoes disunity.

We need to get back to the purpose of Christ, especially we Christians. We need to work to unify the earth as much as we can. “On earth as it is in heaven,” remember. The Christ-taught prayer is that heaven’s look is to begin here.

We are to love and bring unifying love now. But we are not loving our neighbor when we condemn and vilify our neighbor. We are not loving our neighbor when we divide the world into racial groups and stigmatize and leave out people because of the color of their skin. We are not loving our neighbor when we entrenched in a political group and refused to work out a compromise with those who think differently, especially when we both want to do good but have different approaches to implement that good. We are not loving our neighbor nations when we don’t care about their welfare. We are not loving our neighbor when we do not care about their health, and we do not want everyone to have healthcare. We are not unifying all things in Christ when we abuse people or abuse the planet, when we trash the beautiful earth that God gave to all of us. We are not loving future generation that will live in the pollution we have created. We are certainly not loving when we do violence to each other. The Christian crusades? They were not the way of the turn-the-other-cheek, love-your-neighbor, go-into-all-the world-with-the-gospel Christ.

We might object and say Christ is a sword, even dividing families. Yes, divisions will occur over him, he said so, he knew so, in families, even in churches and among Christians, but that isn’t something we are called to initiate or facilitate. Blessed are the peacemakers.

And when divisions do happen we still are called to pray for and forgive others. We were told to love everyone, even our enemies; that’s what Jesus commanded us to do. When we don’t we miss the main purpose of Christ. His purpose, his goal, what he will do, is to unify. That’s what Paul taught in Ephesians 1. We don’t know how he will do that, we don’t know what or who will be left out or included in that — we know evil will not be included in that — but it is our job to join Christ in that, to work in Christ and his leading to “bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth.”

We might respond with “but they.” We can change that to “but Christ.” The scriptures show us that Christ is more inclusive than most of us. That’s certainly is the way he acted when he was here with us. We can think of so many reasons why some people are not one with us, and never will be, but no matter what anyone else is doing we are to make Christ’s goals of love and salvation and redemption and unity our goals too, the best we can.

This will be messy. Look around, live and take note, we live a kind of glorious mess. Most of us will blow it at some point or more and bring some disunity in our family, in our world. Even with those we love. Be honest. You too. Me too. Them too. Us too. Whole groups of people. There will be separations and divisions and harm that we can’t always or won’t always control or stop — and this can be heartbreaking — but we now know what the end will look like in Christ — oneness.

Richard Rohr writes, “I believe that as a spiritual practice we can imagine and create ‘a political system responsive to the people and respectful of global neighbors, a health system that is comprehensive in scope and not profit driven, an educational system shaped by innovation, improvisation, technology, and practicality.’”

“Can we be honest now about what is not working? Can we re-envision new options? I believe that we can, if we want to.” We can. We can work toward more unity and more love.

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