A Note From Pastor Wes: What Does Unity Look Like?
This past Sunday I shared with you some thoughts about unity. A divisive spirit is so prevalent in our country and our culture that we have come to see it as normal. And when it feels normal it’s very easy to let it drift into all areas of our life, such as our families and our church. However, division is not part of God’s kingdom. Unity is.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph 4:3-6
But what does unity look like? That’s a never ending question as each and every situation and circumstance will have its own practical expression of unity. As Wellspring begins to take initial steps toward public gatherings, let’s ask the question:
“What does unity look like at Wellspring in May 2020 as we as a congregation begin to move from the Covid-19 pandemic environment into deeper expressions of life as a community of faith?”
First, unity means that we value each other more than we value our own opinions. Every one of us has opinions and perspectives on this unprecedented experience we all have found ourselves immersed in. It has been in many ways a shared experience, and yet our perspectives are as wide and varied as we are as individuals. The divisive spirit in our culture says that I must convince you to see things my way in order for us to stand united. But I do not need to convince you to see things my way before I can link arms with you in unity. What is more powerful than unified thought is unified hearts. When I value you as a brother or sister more than I value my own opinions, then we can stand together as one…different (sometimes very different) but unified as two parts of one body.
Second, unity means we value each other’s experiences as much as our own experiences. Almost all of us have had some level of intensity and stress imposed upon us these last couple of months, but not all in the same way. We have been sick, or concerned about others, or even lost a loved one, or lost a job, or we are concerned about the future. Intense. Stressful. But again, as varied as we are as individuals. Stress causes us to view the world through our narrow lens of experience. Therefore, the natural tendency is to see the differences between my emotions and needs as compared to yours. For example, I may need to feel safe while you feel the need to provide for your family. Unity requires us to value each other’s experiences as much as our own. I need to value your experience, not judge it. And I need to value my own without guilt. A no guilt, no judgment environment creates the space for genuine unity.
Third, we make every effort toward unity by preferring one another. Romans 12:10 says, Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. We all want to live in a safe and strong environment where we feel we belong and where we feel peace. But to arrive at this place will require that we love one another, we devote ourselves to love one another, and we honor one another even above ourselves. When we place others before ourselves, not in false humility, but in genuine love for each other, we shift the atmosphere from division to unity. Love always connects. Honor always connects. Devotion always connects. When we connect with each other, we link arms with each other in expressions of love, honor, devotion.
Jesus refers to us as His body. The Father refers to us as His family. For the Holy Spirit to rest upon and abide in us His body, in us His family, we need to be unified. We need to be one. We desire to walk in the Lord’s presence. We have declared that 2020 is the year of the Lord’s favor. It’s hard to see the Lord’s favor in the circumstances around us, but one place where we can begin is by inviting His presence within us. Where His presence is His favor will be also.
We all desire the health and wholeness of our Wellspring Family. The season we are in creates division, highlights our differences, and challenges our commitments to one another. As we continue day-to-day and week to week through our volatile world, let’s make the commitment in practical ways to stand in unity. Wellspring does not need to be defined by the Covid-19 environment around us. We stand in unity and make room for His kingdom, His presence, and His favor.