Live Long and Prosper
I vividly remember Diane and I visiting the California Giant Sequoia groves in Yosemite National park. They are massive and purportedly the largest living things on planet Earth. From what I read about these majestic giants, their root system is not known for going deep. Interestingly, it’s not the depth of their root system that keeps them alive through fire and storm. What keeps them alive so long and growing so tall is the fact that their root system spreads out to their closest neighboring redwood trees and intertwines with them. It is their ability to connect and intertwine with each other that keeps them living long and prospering. Ryanosuke Satoro said,
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we become an ocean.”
Whether our drops form an ocean or our roots stretch out to hold a redwood fortress together, unity is and always has been a miracle. True unity is not natural; it is supernatural. We naturally do our own thing. We naturally look out for number one. We naturally put our own interests first. It doesn’t take much effort and we’re all really good at it. Unity, on the other hand is miraculous!
There are 15 psalms beginning with the words, “A Song of Ascents.” Some translations use the word “degrees.” Some believe these psalms were sung during the annual feasts on the way up to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. One of the most powerful of these, I believe, is Psalm 133, containing only 3 verses. It’s the Unity psalm. It’s easy to read. It’s easy to preach about. It’s impossible to do….on our own. Unity, the way the psalmist describes it, is supernatural. In the KJV, verse one begins with the word “behold!” You’ll have to forgive me for my weird mental picture here. But the scene that comes to my mind on the word “behold” is the one in the Lion King where newborn Simba is held up for all to see. Behold! That is what I think David is trying to convey. He’s trying to get our attention. Verse one is a declarative statement. David is making a declaration and the other two verses are word pictures describing that statement.
Don’t Tick Me Off!
“Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.”
It’s not simply good and pleasant; it’s miraculous! I am going to tick most of you off right now (maybe), so hang with me. It will get better. To illustrate, let me give you a few contrasting ideas and see what they do to your emotions. Biden or Trump? Liberal or conservative? Republican or Democrat? Fox news or CNN? Rachel Maddow or Sean Hannity? Masks or no masks? Vaccine or no vaccine? Anti-social distancing or no anti-social distancing? Sorry, I meant social distancing.
Has your blood pressure spiked yet? Did you have an emotional reaction to those contrasts? That is why I say unity is miraculous. It can only happen when we bring Jesus into our lives and hearts. It’s easy to ridicule someone on social media because we’re not face to face. Listen, America has always been a country of contrasts and many opinions. However, it seems that we are in a time when certain viewpoints are not allowed and that depends on which “side” you’re on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having or expressing a differing opinion. It’s when someone gets hammered for their opinion that causes problems. A friend of mine gave a thumbs up to a post on social media and was crucified publicly by some folks who attended the same church. He previously thought they were good friends. My friend was shocked being treated that way by especially by those in his local body of believers. The fact that there are differing opinions is not the problem today. The problem today is what folks do with others opinions. There is nothing wrong with even heated debate. Folks used to have a heated debate or argument and then move on as friends. The vitriol and anger that we are seeing foment is not what America used to be. And to make things worse, it is creeping into our church bodies, denominations, and families causing division.
What’s It Like?
Behold! What is this unity like? It is like the specially crafted holy anointing oil that was only used for consecrations, setting things apart for a special use that was poured on Aaron’s head and dripped down off his beard and onto the borders of his priestly garments. He was the first high priest and this was an incredibly special and unique consecration. Behold! What else was this unity like? It was as if the dew of Mt. Hermon was falling on Mt. Zion. Hermon is the highest point in north Palestine and in Israel. May to October there is very dry so the dew falling at night was as important as the rain. Just like the oil from the top of Aaron’s head down to the edge of his garments, the dew analogy is another “top to bottom” word picture with major significance as this dew was capable of producing a bumper crop of fruit.
Listen, our Christianity is not the greatest when we’re “crusaders” for a cause or when we perceive ourselves to be martyrs. Behold! It is the greatest when we refuse to “fight, slander or undermine” our brothers and sisters, publicly or privately! Just like the dew of Hermon, this dew called unity has the potential to produce a bumper crop of spiritual manifestations such as salvations, making a difference in a family, a church, a community, a country etc. When we learn to mutually submit ourselves and work alongside others to achieve a great goal for the greater good, God is able to produce an amazing bumper crop for His glory! Behold! Unity is diversity walking the same direction. In America, we used to be able to have spirited debates and discussions without guns, knives or ball bats ever being used.
For All to See
I believe the enemy of our souls has seized upon this atmosphere and is using it to magnify division and weaken the very moral fiber of our great society and our churches! Behold! I also believe that God, our Heavenly Father, is wanting to hold his children up just like Rafiki did in the Lion King and say to the world, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for My children to dwell together in unity! Even though they are diverse in their thinking, their ways and even their politics, My children, in their diversity, are walking the same direction in My word! Behold, how they love one another.”
That, my friends, takes a miracle! Unity, as described in Psalm 133 is supernatural. Unity, as described in this Psalm is something that takes not only the hand of the Lord but also the hand of His people willingly working together for the greater good and the harvest at hand. Easy? No! Vital? Yes! God’s plan? Most certainly! Behold! As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord! As children of our Father, we can’t afford to allow polity to reign over the slice of Divinity in our souls. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples; that you have love one to another.” Behold! May we truly be the children our Father desires us to be in these critical times.
John Adams has been pastoring New Life Church in Sandusky, Ohio for over 23 years and has served as a law enforcement chaplain for over a decade. He was recently featured as a guest on Michael Hyatt’s “Lead to Win” podcast and teaches “Emotional Survival for Pastors.”
For more information, visit: PastorJohn.net