Unity

 In Pastor Jeff's Blog

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.- Isaiah 11:6-8

I love Isaiah’s poetry in painting a picture of God’s dream for this world. It’s a dream in which all living things live in peace and perfect harmony.

And that includes the human family. In God’s dream for the world, a dream called The Kingdom of God, people live in unity, not uniformity. Uniformity means that everyone must be exactly the same. We have to think the same, look the same, act the same, believe the same. But unity means that we share a common bond and a common purpose. Unity, which is God’s dream, means that we are bound together by a love for one another, and committed to the mission of making God’s dream a reality.

And here’s the beautiful truth about unity: it’s made stronger through diversity. Think about it like a baseball team. Having 9 pitchers on the field, no matter how good they are, wouldn’t make a strong team. You need a great catcher, a great first baseman, a great left fielder. You need a diversely gifted group of people committed to one another and to winning together. That makes for a great team. And that’s true in the human family.

We are, unfortunately, living in a time when diversity is perceived as something negative, even dangerous. We so readily label and demonize those who are different from us. Racism and hate crimes against various minority groups are on the rise in many places around the world, including our own nation. If we are going to faithfully live into God’s dream for this world we need to condemn and stand against all forms of hatred and discrimination and build bridges of love across difference that we allow to divide us. We don’t need to all be alike. We don’t need to always agree with one another. But if we’re going to be faithful to God’s dream we can never allow our differences to lead us to hate.

Over the course of the last year I’ve had a growing concern about this issue, both for our world and in my own life. And so, I’ve connected with some staff at Luther Seminary to launch a pilot project called “Story Forward” to help us connect our personal stories around race with God’s story. That pilot is going to launch at Prince of Peace in October. There’s limited space available, but if you’d like to join me in learning more about this important issue of faith and society, contact me by e-mail and I’ll tell you more.

God’s dream for this world is a beautiful thing. It’s a dream worth giving ourselves to. Join me in praying that God will change people’s hearts to see beyond our differences, and to image of God in which we have all been created. And may that change begin with us.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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