The Hope of Unity
Written by: Krissie Stempuzis-Wendel
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I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
- John 17:22-23 NLT
I live in the USA and for the majority of 2020, I wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. I wanted to cover my eyes and shield myself from the discord of the country. As an empath, I was having difficulty processing the reality of my nation and its repercussions. It felt heavy and made breathing difficult. No, not because of COVID-19, but because a nation that once prided itself on being united was now anything but. We were drenched in animosity, division, and hatred. If there was ever a line drawn in the sand, it was 2020 in the United States of America. The rest of the world watched as we went to war with each other. A friend living in another country remarked that we were now being referred to as the “Disunited States of America.” They commented that we take pride in our flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, but our actions revealed a different agenda altogether. Sounds a bit like the old adage, actions speak louder than words.
Humans. That’s who we are at our core though, isn’t it? Working for our own selfish agendas. It’s who we’ve always been. Perhaps it takes us experiencing dividedness at its deepest and darkest in order to desire and work towards a unified togetherness. Maybe we needed to be stripped of our own humanity to be able to see our hearts for what they really are. No longer able to hide behind the facade of the United States of America or fill in the blank.
Just thinking about all of this makes me want to retreat and cut off the parts of the world that hurt me. That's why it's important to remember who we are in Christ and not who we are in the world. I find comfort in knowing that Christ is grieving with me. I find hope in knowing that in time, all things will be united in Him (Ephesians 1:10), but I don’t believe that we’re supposed to wait around for that to happen.
I can’t be responsible for the actions of others, but I get to choose my response. You can’t have unity without love. So this is me, reaching out my hand to grasp yours, his, hers, and theirs. Choosing to love others right where they’re at (Romans 15:5-7). Even when it's hard, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it costs me something, even when it’s not popular, even when it seems impossible, and yes, even when I don’t agree with said person. I want to love others with the same intentionality that Jesus did and asks of us. I once read a quote that’s always stuck with me. The quote comes from the book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro.
“Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set the oppressed and the oppressors free.”
That revolution of love is named Jesus Christ. Let us put our hope in His truth rather than the messiness of the world around and in us. It is He that I want to shine in and through me. It is His example that I want to follow. Reconciliation. We can because Christ did (Ephesians 2:13-18, Colossians 1:20). What He did on that tree brings unity to you and me.
1. In what ways have you experienced disunity in your heart and the world around you?
2. How does being unified in Christ help you live out His love in our broken world?
Dear Lord Jesus, Thank You for the pain of 2020. In it, I saw the stark difference of who we are in and out of Christ. Thank You for Your patience and grace to us as a nation and as a people. Please help me to cling to Your unchanging hope and truth that You shed on the cross. Please help me to love others the way You do so that I can represent Your light to our hurting world. It is in Your precious name I pray, Amen.
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