I came across this passage from Psalm 133 today and thought to myself, “You know? David sure was on to something here….”
Think how much different our world would be if we, as the body of Christ, could find a way to live together peacefully with one another (unity), as well as with those around us (community) – especially when their faith traditions differ from our own.
I am challenged today to think about how I can apply the principles of this verse – unity + community – to my own life. Note that striving for unity within and community without does not mean that we compromise the biblical truth that we know and trust. Rather, it signifies that we should find a way to be agents of unity and community within our circles of influence, but without compromising our witness before the unbelieving world.
I am fortunate that the vast majority of the relationships in my life are characterized by peace and calm. This isn’t easy – I’ve had to work hard to manage the relationships in my life so that they are this way (and the Lord has had to intervene in some dramatic ways in the past – to pull me out of incredibly difficult situations, primarily characterized by fear, mistrust, and chaos). I’ve also had to grieve the loss of certain relationships – friendships that I thought were solid, only to realize later that they weren’t – and to let certain people go. I’ve come to understand that it is better to release the following kinds of people from my life (and some of these categories overlap, sadly):
- Toxic individuals
- Narcissistic individuals
- Profoundly unwise individuals
- Disruptive and chaotic people
The reason I’ve learned to let such people go is because I find that my peace is usually the first thing that dissipates when I find myself deeply engaged with these individuals. How can i be at peace with you, when I have no peace within myself?
From my perspective, it’s far better to love certain people from a distance, pray for them as the Spirit leads, and trust that God will work things out for them according to His plans and purposes.
So those are my thoughts on unity and community today. I’m grateful for both attributes, but they have been hard-fought and hard-won in my life. Left to my own devices, I do not default to a place of peace, unity, and community. I have to work hard to achieve these outcomes, and then be even more intentional in my efforts to maintain them. This can only be done if the Holy Spirit is guiding my interactions, and if I intentionally cultivate an atmosphere of peace, unity, and community with those who cross my path each day.
Perhaps some other time, I’ll share a story from my not-too-distant past when this commitment – cultivating unity and community – was deeply challenged by a person who pushed every button I had (and even a few new ones that I knew nothing about!). I can guarantee you one thing: If you have made this commitment before the Lord – to be an agent of unity and community within your sphere of influence – your resolve will be profoundly tested – it’s simply a matter of time.
Here is my prayer for today: Dear Jesus, thank You for the reminder that we are to be the light in this dark world, and that You want us to model unity and community, along with an unwavering adherence to the biblical truth that we know. Help us to be agents of Your peace, and that – through the power of Your Holy Spirit – those who do not know You would be drawn to You through us, as we go about the ordinary routines of our lives. Let us remember that striving for unity and community does not mean that we are necessarily to be passive – it’s usually quite the opposite! Give us the courage and boldness to stand up for You when the situation calls for it, but to still go about our daily routines with an affability and holy winsomeness will draw the unbelieving world to You. In Your name I pray, Amen.