The Unity Jesus Prayed For
When I started dating my husband, right away Greg and I hit it off. We had a lot of fun together and were very like-minded on so many topics and values that were important to us.
This was quite different from my previous relationship where we couldn’t seem to agree on much at all. I had been in constant conflict for some time with him. Ultimately, our value systems didn’t line up, and I needed to make the hard decision to break up with someone I cared for.
My family had always highlighted the importance of finding a person who shared similar virtues and held a certain character, especially if this person was someone I would consider dating in the long-term and eventually marry.
As I entered adulthood, I took this to heart and these things became deeply important to me. I wanted a spouse and father to my children who would value what I valued, things like our faith life and how we would raise our kids, how we would manage money, our convictions on issues and political leanings. It was paramount that whomever it was was a person of conviction and substance. But did this mean we had to “agree” on everything?
If outright agreement became the focus, I think I may not have married Greg and who knows where I’d be and what I would be doing. We would never agree on EVERYTHING. While congruity was present on the deeply important matters of faith and child-rearing, we didn’t and don’t always see eye to eye on every subject.
We’ve had plenty of conflicts throughout our marriage. We’ve had to "agree to disagree" in order to move forward at times and maintain respect for one another. It has caused us to continually grow and learn. But, we have a deeper commitment that far surpasses our occasional differences. It is a covenant really. Nonetheless, we can say that we are unified.
We are for each other. We respect one another. I can appreciate his perspective while still disagreeing at times. It’s also okay to challenge each other and confront the ideas that cause friction. Yet, love must remain - this allows us to move forward together. We can learn to disagree without becoming disagreeable.
Love covers a mulitude of things.
In our current world culture, everywhere we turn there is a call for unity. It’s almost trendy. Unity has been encouraged as a central goal or virtue. Yet, it is not realistic or healthy to just pursue unity for its own advantage. Dare I even say dangerous as a singular goal? What does it really mean to exist in unity?
Loved ones, unity doesn’t mean we agree on everything. Especially as followers of Jesus, unity for the sake of unity isn’t virtuous. It isn’t the end goal. If it was, we may be vulnerable to all kinds of persuasions. It’s okay to have convictions as we humbly challenge them with the truth of God's Word. The end goal is this: Though we have differences, we are unified in key truths about the Gospel of Jesus. We are unified in the reality that people need Him. We can come together and declare the value of each and every person. Jesus came and died for this.
His blood unifies us. His death and resurrection unifies us. His salvation of the world unifies us. Not our doctrines, not our political beliefs, not our held traditions made of man, but simply Jesus and His Gospel of deliverance.
This idea of Gospel unity, not worldly unity, was heavy on the heart of Jesus as he prayed in John 17:21:
“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one - as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.”
This is our mandate: Despite our differences, the Gospel of Jesus compels us to unity for the sake of the people Jesus loves and because He is worthy.