How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
Unity is something that we seem to talk about a great deal in the Church these days. Whether it’s a discussion about whether a particular denomination should allow women to be bishops, or the possibility of two or more denominations merging together, unity seems to be towards the top of many people’s agenda. Then there are the bigger issues, some of which have been discussed and debated for centuries, that divide the Christian church. What part, if any, should the Virgin Mary play in our faith? What happens to the bread and the wine at communion? Who should be authorised to administer communion? What is the role of baptism, and who should we baptise? Sometimes is seems that every way we turn as Christians, there is some big debate lurking around the next corner, just waiting to divide us into ever smaller groups.
Today’s verse, therefore, seems to speak clearly into the Church today. ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity’, the psalmist proclaims. He recognises that there will be divisions amongst believers, but at the same time believes that when we can live together in unity, things are so much better.
Now, unless you happen to be an Archbishop, Pope, denominational president or chair reading this, it’s unfortunately unlikely that you will be able to do much to solve these age old disputes, but that doesn’t mean that we should just dismiss the idea behind today’s verse out of hand. God wants his followers to enjoy unity, not least because we can have far more impact on the world if we’re united, so why not pray to him for unity? Tell him that you want what he wants, and that you are ready and willing to work for unity within the Christian faith.
Why not also strive for unity at a more local level too? It’s not just the global church that is disunited; I know of individual congregations riven by divisions. People argue over theology, doctrine, the format a service should take, the kind of music we should have in our meetings, the time we should meet, even the kind of coffee served at the end of our service. Why not work within your congregation to make peace between the different factions, to work with others to resolve differences, and to strive for greater unity within your congregation?
Most Christians can agree on the basics of the gospel: we are all sinners, saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That’s what’s really important. Let’s try and focus on that life-changing message, and try to put other disagreements to one side.