Inspired by Psalm 133
“How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1 (NRSV)
Christians often talk about the unity of the Church, even though the Church actually appears to be highly fragmented and divided. How can there be unity when there are so many different denominations, styles of worship, traditions, and even doctrines?
The body of Christ imagery that is so prominent in the letters of Paul is very important and helpful for understanding this. Unity does not mean uniformity. The heart looks and functions nothing like the skin, yet both are absolutely necessary for the survival of a body. The eyebrow helps keep sweat out of the eyes, allowing the eyes to perform their function better. Eyes allow a person to see obstacles, that information is processed by the brain, and the legs and the feet react accordingly, preventing the person from tripping and breaking their wrist. Eyebrows, eyes, brain, legs, and feet, all functioning differently, yet together they protect the wrist.
It is true that we in the body of Christ spend too much time judging and diminishing the importance of other Christians. It is not the diversity within Christianity that causes the fragmentation and division, but the accusations and dismissals of our own brothers and sisters in Christ. Imagine how well the gospel could be proclaimed if only we spent less time defining who is a ‘true’ Christian versus a ‘so-called’ Christian, and more time being the expression of the Church that we are called to be.
Let us pray. Lord God, you are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God. Help us to embrace the wondrous diversity of traditions and cultures you have blessed us with, that we may use the variety of our gifts to reach out to all your people. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.