I completed this Ink with Pen and Brush of ‘Rothenburg ob der Tauber’ last week. I was drawn to this medieval town’s cobbled streets lined with impeccably preserved timbered houses and towered walls. From the 16th century tower gate one can see over the city walls down to the Tauber River. I enjoy the detail and history associated with this German gem.
I imagine dozens of families (perhaps representing many ethnic backgrounds in addition to German) along with their small businesses, unified within the scope of this scene. I chose it for this week’s Thought—Unity.
Thought: What is ‘Unity’?
TO OBSERVE OUR recent national landscape, it seems we may have lost the meaning and power of ‘unity’. What is ‘unity’? A good one-word definition: ‘harmony’. Harmony is produced with a quartet when four individuals sing or play together. The four may be very different in many ways. They have different vocal or instrumental abilities. So, ‘unity’ or harmony does not mean being the same. So, where is the ‘unity’? The ‘unity’ is in their purpose. The quartet’s purpose is a harmonic performance for the benefit of an audience. Each performer is of equal value in attaining ‘unity’ for that purpose.
“E Pluribus Unum” is Latin for “out of many, one,” (first proposed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson in 1776) was adopted by the Founding Fathers in 1782 as part of the Great Seal of the United States, intended to represent the federal nature of the nation—out of many states, one country. In many ways, states remain independent. In many other ways there is also ‘unity’ of purpose: i.e. National security. Many early leaders saw another essential dimension to our “unity” as a nation on the world stage.
George Washington said: “It is impossible rightly to govern the world without God and the Bible”. Daniel Webster stated: “If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper, but if we or our posterity neglect it’s instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.”
THINK CAREFULLY on their words. How are we doing? How can we change?
Catalyst for Change
THESE MEN REALIZED, from personal observation, that at every level it was the influence of Jesus followers in society that was providing the catalyst of ‘salt’ and ‘light’ that kept “unity” of purpose possible in this nation.
According to Wikipedia: “In 2019, Christians represent 65% of the total adult population, 43% identifying as Protestants, 20% as Catholics, and 2% as Mormons …” Understandably, not all who claim Christianity actively seek to follow Jesus in practice. Therefore, those who do seek to actually be followers of Jesus are the catalyst of his love that enables “unity” of purpose.
It is the evident ‘fruit’ of the Spirit of God, working through Jesus followers, that becomes the catalyst for true “unity”. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control… Galatians 5:22 (NIV)
These nine characteristic qualities are produced wherever the Spirit of God is operative. In Jesus’ high priestly prayer he said: I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:23
IN ESSENCE, I believe Washington and Webster were saying—whether realizing the magnitude of their words or not—that only God’s power of love working by means of His Spirit through followers of Jesus produces a climate for the kind of “unity” this nation needs in order to continue. First, it begins with the power of God’s love working “unity” within the follower of Jesus. Jesus said:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34, 35
The ’Bottom Line’
IT IS MY BELIEF that “unifying” this nation begins with the common purpose to accept the gift of God’s love and allow it to be overtly manifest in practical ways to everyone. That begins with Jesus followers in their homes, their Churches, their neighborhoods, nation and the world.
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. Psalm 133:1
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3