Being One? Is this possible?
"For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." 1 Cor 12:13
"That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." Gen 2:24
"Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one." Deut 6:4
One. In the kingdom of God, one is a marvelous word. From God himself, to marriage, to the church, one is used to describe, not individuality, but unity. Just as God is one God in three persons (think about that too long and it will make your brain explode), husband and wife are called to be one. After 23+ years of marriage I can tell you that making the two one is no easy feat. In the same way, the people of God are called to be one. Why?
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” John 17:20-22
Jesus reveals two reasons for the unity of the body in his prayer for future believers: first we must be one because God is one. It is core to humanity to be the image of God, the imago deo, in the world. God is the perfection of unity in diversity; the people of God are to reflect this divine trait. Secondly, it is part of our apologetic in the world. Through our unity, Jesus prays, the world will believe that the Father sent the Son. The unity of the body corroborates the gospel message.
Unity is beautiful, but it is difficult. It is a struggle for me to live in unity with one human being I chose and love. How difficult is it to be in unity with those we have not chosen, or even more so, may not like? Is the goal of unity, especially a unity across racial, ethnic, and economic lines, even possible? I confess, I often ponder this question. I am not sure human beings can pull this off. Actually, I am convinced they can’t. In our flesh, we cannot achieve unity, only through God’s Spirit is it even remotely possible. How do we practically do this? Check back next week for some of my ideas or share yours below in the comments section.