Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Effects of Unity (Part 2 of 5)

The psalm 133 presents to us at least 3 effects unity has over our lives and ministries:

I. The Peacemaking Effect (verse 1): “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”

The first aspect to be considered of this effect is that unity is generated by and in the Holy Spirit in our lives. Why do I say this? First because it is good when brothers live in unity. Goodness is one of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The word goodness in Greek is “agathosune” and, different of what many think, this word doesn’t mean to act or be good to others, but it means “to do what is right”. To act or be good according to the concept we normally have is related to other fruit of the Spirit: kindness or gentleness (Gr. Chrestostes) which brings the meaning of the aspect of goodness in action, the gentleness to others, or even generosity.

For example, there is a new student (Peter) at the school and he feels totally out of place as the other children won’t play with him. Charles is a Christian kid, and he knows that God doesn’t show favoritism, and it’s not cool what the other kids are doing. So Charles goes and invites Peter to play ball with him. Peter smiling accepts it and there go the two of them. Charles acted with kindness or gentleness to Peter. Now let us say that one day Peter doesn’t do his homework and, worried, asks Charles to allow him to copy his homework. But Charles knows that this is wrong and tells him that he can’t do that. Later, at the school, Peter has to stay in class during recess to finish his homework. So Charles goes to the teacher and asks her if he can help Peter to do his homework. As she allows it, Charles spends the recess helping Peter. In this situation Charles acted with goodness towards Peter. If he had allowed Peter to copy his homework he would have done something wrong, and this would not be “goodness”.

The reason of being for “goodness” is to achieve excellence. In the New Testament there is another Greek word for goodness, “arete”, meaning virtue or excellence (mainly in a more moral aspect). It appears in 2 Peter 1:5 as a foundational associated prerequisite for one to reach the agape love. This means that we do not have the conditions, in terms of moral excellence or virtue, apart of the Holy Spirit.

And in second place, the bible refers to unity as something originated from the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:3 “...being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;…” 1 Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”.

Another aspect of this effect is the reaching point of unity. It is pleasant to whom? Who is pleased by it? The answer can be found in Romans 14:17-19 where we can see that in living a life of pursuit of the things of peace and the building up of one another (meaning unity), in a service act to Christ done in justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, we do please God, others and ourselves.

What results does this bring? It generates the end of conflicts. Otherwise, how could we be called brothers? This term, brothers, reminds us of Genesis 13:8, when there was a conflict between Abram’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds. The answer of Abram was “Please let there be no strife between you and me … for we are brothers” where we see brothers seeking a mediation to keep peace. It isn’t at random that Paul says that we have a ministry of reconciliation. It does not only reach the non-Christians for reconciliation through conversion, but even the Christians for reconciliation through unity. Finally, the phrase “living together” in this verse (Heb. yashab) comes from the context of two people sitting together or dwelling together. This means that unity is not something that happens only once, when we quit in case of failure or someone’s faults, but, on the contrary, it is a continuous process.

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