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  • markwbrown

What’s behind the call for unity?

We now see lots of talk and a push for unity. With all the trials and division, it’s no wonder. Yet I am curious if we are mindful about what is behind that frustrated hunger for unity.

How do we reconcile the seemingly innate desire for unity and the growing animosity? We are made in God’s image and feel a call to be brothers but confusingly, like Cain and Able, we want to kill each other. If not literally, then at least in our mind or in our media posts.

Even my Apple watch has joined in for the call to unity with a new, “Unity” watch face. It as if calling for it and making an app for it might accomplish it. For many this means either glossing over real differences or calling for pressure to conform.

1. In today’s world of ideologue silos, we see some unity created by subtraction. If I can eliminate the “other” in my daily life or digital life and curate an audience that agrees, or better yet join a preformed audience, I can create my own unity.

2. We also see some calling for unity via pressure to conform, unity by subjugation. If I make you think like me or talk like me, I create unity by force. Whether this be via “cancel culture” or restricting speech, I can force a world I approve of… and a world I control.

There is an even a more personal and vital relationship that has this same problem, the disunity I have in myself. I also feel the innate hunger to have a unity in me, a pure heart. Yet I find my house divided.

Romans 7:21–25 (ESV): “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

The previous options of siloing (unity by subtraction) or stifling (unity by subjugation) are similarly not effective options on the personal level.

How do we enter this moment with Christian clarity, both for our witness and our own single heartedness?

The greatness and the wretchedness of man are so evident that the true religion must necessarily teach us both that there is in man some great source of greatness, and a great source of wretchedness. It must then give us a reason for these astonishing contradictions.” Blaise Pascal

I see this hunger and frustration of unity, as a bridge for us in this moment. Those of us that are Christ-followers are not the only ones to feel this angst.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a man who battled with true evil said famously, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart -- and through all human hearts.”

Right now, the call and answer of unity is very thin, initially appealing but lacking the depth of soil to grow real change. There is a prevailing view of a good heartedness in mankind despite all appearances in our world and in our hearts. That view has only held court because of our ability to see the “other” as evil (stupid, uneducated, elite or even suspect). That thin view and blind eye is also turned inward, denying the evil intent in me.

We have the answer if only we are able to articulate the real question to the world around us. Why do we have a true hunger for unity within and without, yet find it frustrated at every turn?

I want a unified heart, a singular spirit, a heart without disparity. We see the need and feel the rightness of a pure and dedicated heart. A heart with a focus on the unifying concept of obedience and relationship to God, yet we see too plainly the disunity of our flesh and will.

Too often we Christians can fight disunity in a similar way the culture now fights the battle in-mass. We can seek to silence by ignoring the reality if the division (denial) or we can seek to suppress it with force and manipulation (blind religiosity). If we are mindful of these attempts, we know they don’t work.

We find the solution in the gospel of Christ, both for our own division and by extension, the division we face around us.

Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Romans 7:25 “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Believing friends, let’s go out and reframe the question with a gospel solution.

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