Stand united, striving side by side. Years ago, teaching this lesson was one of most difficult aspects of coaching fourteen-year-old girls. As rowers together in a crew, they needed to be completely in sync, with each person’s oar mirroring the timing and motion of the first rower. But again, these were fourteen-year-old girls who fought over the same boy, were participants in and victims of gossip and jealousy, and searching to find their place and discover their identity. Practice many days began sitting together on a hillside, reminding them that they needed to support one another, and regardless of what had been said and done at school, now they needed one another. If one girl was missing or not competing at her best, the whole crew suffered. Their common goal was to cross the finish line before any other boat.
As I read Paul’s words to the Philippians one more time, his emphasis on unity in the Spirit stuck out to me. They didn’t all have to think exactly alike or agree all of the time, but they did need to have a common goal of following and sharing Jesus with others. They were a group of very different people, who otherwise probably would not have associated or been friends. In our local churches and in our denomination, there is a wide spectrum on how we view some subjects and collections of people who normally would not associate beyond the church walls. Unfortunately, many have allowed these differences to divide. If as local churches and a denomination, we dialogued, watched over one another in love, behaved differently from the rest of society, and united ourselves in the Spirit for our common mission and purpose, our communities and the world would be changed.
Questions to Consider
Are there groups and factions within your community of faith that are experiencing disunity? Do you have a unifying mission or goal? What would it take to get everyone moving in the same direction? Not all agreeing, but having the same mission? Where have you allowed emotions or the need to be right to keep you from uniting with the Body of Christ?