Woven through the warp and woof of Scripture’s great landscape are themes so glorious and rich that we can barely put them into words. I’m trying. What are the ten big ideas of the Bible? God, creation, sin, grace, faith, redemption. Where next? I suppose it is obvious if we pause to consider what kind of God we have:
7. The glorious tri-unity of God reaches out to both create community, and to draw us into the community of His love.
God’s passion for beautiful unity in diversity brings the unlikely into unexplainable unity to reflect the good and pleasant bond of God’s fellowship.
In the very beginning, the conversation of God led to the creation of two creatures made in His image. Male and female. United to each other and to God by His Spirit. Diversity, yet beautiful other-centred unity. The image of God. A wedding to start the story, but nothing like the wedding that will end it.
Sin drove distance like a wedge into the Edenic marriage, and the relationship with God. The apparent freedom of self-love is a destructive prison of competition, fear, hatred, as well as the deafening silence and dark terror of living as the dead, alone in the coffin of our self-defined worlds.
So God has continually moved toward His creation, promising to create community beyond our wildest dreams. He promised to bless all families through one man’s seed. He promised to establish a kingdom of righteousness, even though his holy nation resisted the privilege of priesthood.
He is now calling out a bride for the Son He loves – the church, a temple of stones united in one God-inhabited structure of worship, a body of diverse yet valued parts united under one head, a bride of diverse peoples bound together by the captivating love of the beloved and longing for His return.
As God brought together Jew and Gentile into one body, His multi-coloured wisdom has quite literally been presented to a watching world and spiritual realm. Where else can there be true unity between people long divided? Where else can a world be taken aback by the mutual love of people so different and naturally opposed? (Consequently where else is racism, or hatred, or political power-mongering, or falsity so unspeakably hideous?)
Unity among God’s people is not just a pragmatic idea – a means by which we can avoid losing energy for our greater mission of reaching the world. Unity among God’s people is our greatest testimony in reaching the world. Our unity speaks of His character and nature. Our disunity screams a lie about God to a watching world.
So we long for the day when all the tribes of Israel and all the tribes and tongues and nations and languages of the church will reflect God’s unity and diversity in our eternal reflections on His worthiness around the throne and the Lamb. This will be no cacophony. This will be the most harmonious symphony of voices, of languages, of stories, of peoples…of one people, united in the world of God’s love.
There are not a few passages that address issues of unity among God’s people – from narratives of brotherly disunity to psalms celebrating the refreshing nature of brotherly unity. From Jesus’ foundational instruction of squabbling disciples, to epistles extolling the glorious potential implicit in the gospel applied.
Let’s not preach unity as some pragmatic ideal for the sake of some other goal. Let’s not preach unity as independent creatures tolerating each other. Let’s recognize that God’s passion for unity flows from who He is, and what He’s making us to be.