Stop Wasting Time
Community, the sharing of our lives with others, is one of those things for which deeply long and yet something from which we often try to protect ourselves. Relationships provide the greatest, deepest joys in life and also the most profound pain and hurt. We have a built in ambivalence toward others because we live in a fallen world.
In Psalm 133, David makes the assertion: “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” Certainly, he is extolling the wonderful virtues of living in relationship with others but notice his choice of words: “living together in unity.” He doesn’t say, “how good and pleasant it is when brothers live together with no conflict or with perfect agreement or without annoying each other or without pain or with no problems.” He chooses the word unity.
In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul writes: “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The goal is unity and it is achieved through love … a love that is fostered through humility, gentleness, and patience.
We might wish that God would give us “conflict free, problem free, or hurt free” relationships, but He won’t. Jesus’ desire is that we take His yoke upon us (Matthew 11:28-30) and His yoke is humility and gentleness. The only way we can take His yoke is through bearing with one another in love.
Unity is not about perfect agreement or being conflict free, but choosing to relate to each other based on the reality of our “oneness.” In Ephesians 4, Paul goes on to say, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Notice the repetition of the word “one”? We are one in Christ. Unity springs from a love that focuses on our oneness.
Theologian Jean Vanier said: “Everything will resolve itself through love. Stop wasting time running after the perfect community. Live your life fully in your community today. Stop seeing the flaws—and thank God there are some! Look rather at your own defects and know that you are forgiven and can, in your turn, forgive others and today enter into the conversion of love, and remember, pray always.”
In Psalm 133, David goes on to compare unity to the sacred beauty of oil flowing down the priest’s robes. It is a picture of an extravagant gift. Unity is a gift because it reminds of the reality of God’s love and what He has done in us. The dew on Mt. Zion is a picture of God’s provision as well.
The beauty of community is not that everyone agrees or looks the same or thinks the same or … but that there is unity in diversity. When this happens, it is one of the greatest of joys because it is Jesus – not us – who becomes the center.
If we had “perfect” community, we might be tempted to live without God. If we had “perfect” community, where would we learn to be gentle and humble in heart? Maybe, just maybe, perfect community is found when we are living with the imperfect (including ourselves).
What do you need to do to embrace others in love today? What will taking the yoke of Jesus mean? What, in your life, needs to humbled? What will gentleness look like?