We have a great thought – an epiphany even — and begin hatching a plan to carry it out. Then we gather a few people to rally around our well-intended plan and begin to see the vision of what could be if we get everyone on board with the idea.
Maybe the goal is to end gun violence, clean up the planet, address an epidemic or something a little less global, but whatever it is, we’re sure as soon as they hear it, everyone else will see the logic in our plan and climb aboard; until they don’t.
What happens next in too many cases is that the people we sought as allies in our cause suddenly become detractors and fools — at least in our eyes.
This has played out countless times in history. Heck, it played out several times last week!
The lack of true unity in our world — down to the smallest denomination of people — is why politics, lawyers, the Constitution and “big brother” exists: When there is no unity, we begin to look to an enforcer of ideas.
In the Bible, we see this play out as the new order under Jesus becomes known as the way begins to take hold. Righteous-thinking leaders gradually lose sight of the goal and start devising ways to employ and incorporate this new path to God.
What once was exclusive and bound to a large (and growing) set of hard-to-keep rules was seemingly erased and replaced by a new deal that centered not around the old code, which punished wrongdoing, but around the central idea that God has wanted us all along and loves us so much, he allowed his own son to step up and defend us.
But tradition — as traditions do — died hard.
Not everyone agreed on the way to come together under this new deal. So the well-known Apostle Paul writes a letter to a group of leaders in Ephesus who are divided over the process.
In what we consider the fourth chapter of his letter, he reminds us that the mission itself unites us.
Not the method. Not the rules. Not the endless disgruntled chatter over what you can and can’t eat or which rules matter most — the mission.
So, whether your plan is to unite people around the next great way to stem playground violence or clean up the streets in your city, maintain your focus on the goal. Realize many parts make the whole in accomplishing the mission.
Likewise, for believers — we may differ in the how, but we need to maintain our unity in Christ nonetheless. Love must be our motivation — love for the gospel and one another.