I wish unity were a decision I could make once and then have it carry out the rest of my life. If given the option, I’m sure you would too because it is much easier! But the reality is, unity is a conscious, daily decision to be at peace, to be connected, and to be in harmony with ourselves, with others, and with God.
Romans 12:16 tells us, “Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!”
Without the daily, conscious decisions of living in harmony, we will experience disunity. Disunity is often the result of not taking the time to choose unity. And if we are honest with ourselves, I would venture to say that at the end of the day, we all want to say, “I am becoming a person of unity.” We want people to say, “They always seem to connect well with other people.”
But those daily, conscious decisions take time, effort, and prayer! So, what do those decisions look like?
Unity is a response of humility. Disunity is the result of a lack of humility. Rick Warren, Lead Pastor of Saddleback Church, says, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” Sometimes, it is easy to confuse the two, and we end up thinking less of ourselves allowing people to walk all over us. But, that’s not unity and that’s not humility. Unity is about making the decision everyday to wear humility in our actions and our attitudes.
Unity is putting aside one’s preferences for the sake of someone else. Disunity is seeking out your own preferences. This one ties directly to humility and also is one of the most challenging yet effective ways to combat disunity. Choosing to have right relationships over being right will be a win every time. Forsaking your own preferences in a conflict or disagreement in order to be in right relationship will help keep us grounded and Kingdom focused. It’s what helps us take our eyes off ourselves and onto the other person. Unity, stemming from unite, is rooted in community and so too is fighting against disunity. It’s a selfless act for the sake of others and community. It’s an essential part of our lives, in order to live in harmony, to focus on the other person’s feelings, needs, and attitudes.
Unity comes from separating the problem or the predicament from the person. Disunity causes us to blend the problem with the person together and not see them holistically. It is challenging but applicable to us all because we all encounter problems on a daily basis. One thing that I have learned is to take a step back and separate the problem from the person. When you are able to see the person made in the image of God, the problem becomes easier to handle. It creates a desire to want to be in harmony with them, and it allows me to recognize I can’t resolve this on my own. I need God’s help. So, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.
On our staff where I work, we have a saying that says, “Fill in the gaps with positive assumptions.” I try to extend extra grace. We all have times when we are the recipients of extra grace, so it’s learning to extend that to one another. I don’t sugar coat the situation. When necessary, I also speak truth in love for the sake of our relationship, but also separating the relationship from the problem. I’m choosing to be in right relationship over being right and to have a Kingdom mindset.
It is possible to be people of unity in a Christ- centered community, but we must choose to be her every day!