Disunity is all around us and everywhere to be seen and experienced. We see it in families, in politics, and in the church—both locally and globally. Disunity builds walls between people. It is difficult to take down those walls because disunity is so embedded. Disunity hurts. It causes us to be strangers and aliens to one another.
It is sad to say that we are eyewitnesses and “earwitnesses” to the lack of unity in the body of Christ. But today’s scripture reading is unambiguous with regard to the pursuit of unity in the church. Christianity is grotesque when it turns its back on unity. When this happens, it is not Christianity but something else entirely.
According to Paul, the church needs to strive for unity in the Spirit. Organic unity is not the main thing. It is the Holy Spirit which transcends our differences and makes us one in Christ. The Holy Spirit strengthens us to bear with one another in love.
As I write this, I serve on the faculty at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN. We are a diverse community. Our students claim more than two dozen denominations and traditions. They come from all over the United States and from many other countries. The faculty is also a mixture of theological perspectives.
Though we have glaring differences, there is a spirit of unity as we study, worship, and fellowship together. I can feel the unity in both my heart and my head. Division among Christians must be a wound in the heart of Christ. Paul challenges us to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” May it be so!
Help me, O God, to bear with others with gentleness, patience, and love, for you are above all and through all and in all. Amen.
David thinks he has gotten away with his sins, but God sends Nathan to tell David a story. The story angers David, but Nathan reveals that the story is really about David’s own behavior. Indeed, it can be tempting to condemn others’ sin, while we justify our own. Psalm 51 is David’s appeal to God for forgiveness and restoration. If we want to please God in our own lives, what does this look like? Ephesians tells us that the signs of a redeemed life include humility, love, patience, and building up one another (the opposite of what David displayed). In John, Jesus has crowds following him because they want a free meal. The lasting nourishment they truly need, Jesus teaches, comes through believing that God has sent him.
Read 2 Samuel 11:26–12:13a. When has someone else helped you see that you have sinned? How did you respond to that person?
Read Psalm 51:1-12. When have you felt “unclean” before God? How did God restore you?
Read Ephesians 4:1-16. What are your gifts? How do you use them to build up the body of Christ?
Read John 6:24-35. How do you feed your soul?
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