Relational Wellbeing for Churches in One Word: Unity!

Reading time: two minutes.

Happy Fourth of July!  I love America and feel privileged to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I pray for our country constantly.  There’s no country on earth that compares to ours.  We are very fortunate.

That “e pluribus unum” thing, however, is not working out so great.  Years ago Rodney King asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?”  Of all the nations in all of history, I think America took the best shot at it, but left to ourselves, unity is just not in us, Rodney.  We don’t get along because we have a natural inclination to selfishness.

The word “unity” takes a central place in Ephesians 4, our guiding text as we consider the Lutheran Wellness Wheel, this week thinking about Relational Wellbeing.

When the Church of Jesus Christ is at it’s best, the world, America in particular, could learn how to make e pluribus unum a reality.

In Ephesians 4:3, Paul wrote, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  If the holy Christian church on earth were to put a Latin motto on our coins (we have coins, don’t we?) it might read “e Unum unum.”  Our unity does not grow out of the plurality of who we are.  We live in the unity of the Spirit.

When I was serving in parish ministry, folks would often ask, “So, how are things at Mount Calvary?”  My standard response was, “Jesus is doing some wonderful things!  We’re just trying to stay out of His way.”

When you and I were “called, gathered, enlightened and sanctified” (SC) by the Holy Spirit, we met each other on common ground.  My funny shaped, jigsaw puzzled, jagged edges would never and could never fit nicely together with yours.  I’m not naturally very loveable, kind, compassionate or humble.  There’s no natural reason on earth why you and I, thrown together for this ride through life, would get along very well.

Left to ourselves, we’d look a lot like America: everyone grabbing for their piece of the pie with only a modest token of regard for others.

But we have been “called, gathered, enlightened and sanctified.”  You didn’t do that.  I didn’t either.  We met at the cross, with all our crooked, jagged, misshapen edges.  Then humbled and overwhelmed by the forgiving grace of Jesus, the Spirit brought us together.

Healthy churches return continually to the foot of the cross, remember who we were, remember who we are, and celebrate the fellowship we share through the forgiveness of our sins.

That’s how we “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  I pray for you and for all of our churches that we would learn more and more, as days go by, to stay out of the way of the One (Unum) who makes us one!

Peace.  Thanks for reading.

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