Proverbs 17:17, 18:24
I am confident that many of you have heard the phrase “united we stand, divided we fall.” The historical origins of this phrase are said to be rooted in the ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop. He directly said these words in his fable “The Four Oxen and the Lion,” and indirectly in “The Bundle of Sticks.” The ancient Greek writer probably expressed what was already understood, unity has strength while division is a sign of weakness.
For those of you who have a familiarity with our holy scriptures, you know that Ecclesiastes says “Although one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (4:12) Unity ensures a grouping of two or more can withstand its attackers. Unity enables strength in mission and purpose. A unified body is harder to derail or destroy. The gospel writer of Mark notes that if there is a lack of unity, then destruction is likely. “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25, cf. Matthew 12:25 and Luke 11:17) As disciples of Jesus Christ, we believe in the unity of the Holy Spirit that makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon all gathered and they were each given spiritual gifts. Holistically as a community, they were given the gift of unity.
We find ourselves in unique circumstances. This situation requires a particular fruit of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of patience. If we exercise patience, we will be able to maintain our unity, and if we maintain our unity, then our love for one another will remain intact. If we lose patience with our situation, then we will begin to fracture as a community of faith and our love will erode. There is no particular scripture or wisdom that specifically addresses our modern phenomenon and circumstance. Still, we can proclaim that God’s love grants us patience and if we are willing to live in and exercise patience, our unity will be preserved; maybe even made stronger.
I encourage you to take time and read each of the scriptures above as you move to reflect on the questions below. I hope that you will take time to assess your level of patience with our current situation; it is a measure of your love and our unity. I also pray that God bless the reading of God’s Word and the meditations of your heart.
- When you watch the news reports, do you feel encouraged to exercise patience with our situation or discouraged? Why?
- When you read social media posts from friends and family, are you exercising patience or do you lose your patience and lash out? Why?
- When you talk with family or friends, do you feel a need to be patient with them, especially those you disagree with? How well are you exercising patience?
- Are their people in your faith community that you disagree with? How does that affect your unity with them?
- Are their people in your family that you are angry or bitter toward? How is that affecting your love and unity?
- What do you believe is your duty as a disciple of Jesus Christ in relationship to love, patience, and unity?
- What particular acts of kindness or service are you using to show your love and patience so we might preserve our unity?
- What particular act of kindness or service might you develop in order to show love and patience so we might preserve our unity?
Gracious God. On the day of Pentecost you gave your Holy Spirit to those gathered in the name of your son, Jesus. You gifted them for ministry both inside and outside the community. Your Spirit brought love, gifts, and unity. During this time of social distancing and protective measures, help us to rely more on the love that you have given us. We ask that your Holy Spirit blow freshly upon us as we access the gifts you give for our mission and purpose. Keep us in the bond and unity of our fellowship. We pray that when we gather again, we might be stronger in our love, mission, and purpose as we go to share your goodness with all. Amen.