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Saturday, March 23, 2019

the how of unity

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robes.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.  For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalm 133:1-3)

I love the description of what life is like when God’s people live together in unity.  It is so rich and beautiful and inviting.  It is so vibrant and healthy and life-giving.  Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a community like that?  The problem is that the psalm never tells us how to do that.  And the how seems to be the elusive part, especially in this broken and chaotic world.  How do we live together in such a way that it causes God to bestow his blessing, even life forevermore?

Maybe it has something to do with who we are to be to each other.  Maybe it has something to do with consistently showing up with each other—listening, being truly present, paying attention, really seeing and hearing each other.  And maybe it has something to do with creating a place and a space of belonging and acceptance, a safe space where each of us can come out of hiding and be real and vulnerable with one another, without the fear of being judged or fixed or attacked or criticized.  Maybe it involves a commitment to speak love into each other’s deepest fears.  Maybe true community is to be a place that creates in each of us a desire to become more. 

But I think that living in community also involves a refusal to act out of the old self and its practices (Col. 3:9).  It involves a refusal to attack and criticize and judge.  It involves a refusal to protect and rationalize and defend.  It involves a refusal to blame and disparage and belittle.  It involves a refusal to hide and to cover and to posture.  It involves a refusal to create a narrative for (or about) someone else.  It means that we give each other the benefit of the doubt and refuse to assign motives or intent to someone else.  It involves a willingness and a commitment to take off our old self and its practices, while refusing to try and rip the old self off of others.  

True community is a place and a space where we are all invited into the beauty and the life and the abundance of the new.  It is a place where we become—and help others become—our best (truest) selves.  Now that really is good and pleasant!

Show us how, O God, to live together in unity.  Otherwise we will only be able to read about the benefits of doing so, without ever experiencing its reality.  Help us, O Lord.  Have mercy on us.  Amen.

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