I believe that a united front is needed not only in America, but in our global world too. In Nehemiah 4:6 the rebuilding of the wall occurred because the people had a mind to work together. If we are going to rebuild America we must be willing to work together in love, peace, joy, and patience understanding the differences of all people. Being united means that we are all in tune with each other. Someone put it this way “100 pianos all tuned to the same tuning fork will be in perfect harmony!” Let us do our best to work together for a better America.
One nation, one people is the dream of our President, our Founding Fathers and our God. It is “we, the people” in this one nation who struggle with the concept of unity. In Christian tradition, we remember that Jesus prayed that we would be one. I believe Jesus prayed about it because he understood how hard it would be to achieve it. We have grown up in a world where the dividing lines we draw make diversity a chasm to cross instead of a divine construct to celebrate. The faith community should be leading in efforts to work together in making our love for our God and one another visible. Today the world primarily sees how we continue to divide over our differences. There are innumerable opportunities for the faith community to come together in unity, working together to eradicate hunger, visit the prisons, clothe the ones who have so little, and care for the sick. “We the people” are too busy disagreeing on whose responsibility it really is. I agree that it is time for sensitivity to the voice of God’s Spirit calling us to be one in the way we partner, in the way we seek to work together, and in the way we set aside differences to seek the common good.
The Christian Story teaches two enduring lessons about unity.
First, unity is only possible when our cause is greater than our conflicts. Jesus brought together men and women who once detested one another. But he enlisted them in a common cause of serving the poor, speaking good news to those who’d lost their way, and bringing light to darkness. He invited them to participate in a global mission of restoration and reconciliation. That cause outweighed their conflicts.
Second, unity is only possible when our devotion is greater than our differences. I may differ from fellow Christians in race, income, or political affiliation. But I share with every Christian this one thing-a devotion to the One who died for all on the cross. That commonality outweighs all differences.
The role of the faith community is to demonstrate this unity, to be a contrast-community which lives a radical harmony never before seen by the world.
Sadly, this is too often not the case. Our churches and congregations are known for discord more than they are known for accord.
Many of our churches no longer have a cause greater than their conflicts. Global restoration and reconciliation has been replaced by “keeping the faith” (code words for “do things as they’ve always been done”), condemning the cultural sin-of-the-day, or self-promotion.
And, many of our churches no longer have a devotion greater than their differences. Rather than focus on our one similarity—a love for Christ, we focus on our dissimilarities—church polity, policy and practice.
Perhaps the President’s call for unity should prompt churches and congregations to return to the unique unity which they alone have in Christ.
And, having restored that Christian unity, churches can point the nation to these two fundamental truths about unity. Congregations can urge the nation to ask these two questions: What cause is greater than our nation’s internal conflicts? What devotion is greater than our nation’s internal differences? If we could begin to answer those questions, real unity could become a reality.
In his second inaugural address, President Obama gave a grand vision for several important areas of our national life: immigration reform, care for the environment, gun control, and development of our middle class. It was disappointing, however, to hear him using our biblically-based civil rights legacy to promote his unbiblical viewpoints on sexuality and family life. While it is true that every citizen, regardless of his or her age, gender, race, “class,” or sexual orientation, should have equal access to every opportunity and right of citizenship, it is not true that there are no consequences of violating God’s commandments, nor is it true that because someone like Louie Giglio preached a sermon twenty years ago on the biblical view of homosexual practice that our president should exclude him from participation in his inauguration ceremony, nor is it true that we as a body politic should equally encourage or incentivize every view of family life as though they were morally equivalent or equally supportive of the common good of society. We continue to pray for our president and to thank God for him and all our leaders.
What is needed to unify America is a new Great Awakening, a universal outpouring of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of our people. Just as the first Great Awakening of the 1700′s united the 13 colonies spiritually so that they could unite politically on the eve of the American Revolution, and just as the Second Great Awakening of the 1800′s produced momentous social reform movements like abolition of slavery and women’s rights on the eve of the Civil War, so, too, is a similar renewal of religion needed to unite our very polarized country today. Over George Washington’s pew in St. Paul’s Chapel, at the base of Ground Zero in New York City, is perhaps the original painting the Great Seal of the United States, with our Founding Fathers’ motto e pluribus unum, “out of many, one.” It was St. Paul himself who wrote that such unity amidst diversity comes about in the body of Christ because each member is given to drink of the same Spirit. Let us pray for God’s Spirit to unite America in a renewed awakening of e pluribus unum.
The history of our nation is filled with “conflict,” from Washington’s first Cabinet where they disagreed to the present. But our country always managed to rise above all the inner turmoil and become the leader of nations! We have the best Constitution ever written and the best form of government ever devised on the face of the world – from the concept of democracy in that ancient land where men like Aristotle said, “Democracy arose fro men thinking that if they are equal in any respect, they are equal in all respects.” The people speak through their representatives, therefore, we have no one to blame but ourselves for any turmoil we get into. Let us recall the words of Pericles who said, “We do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics minds his pwn business. We say he has no business here at all!”
The President’s inaugural address and the Republican response signal a second term of full-contact partisan clashes. The faith community should advance civility and respect as the foundations of vigorous political debate.
To this end, I speak to my own people, conservative evangelicals: Whether or not we agree with President Obama’s policies, we are commanded to show him respect and honor. We’re also commanded to willingly pay our taxes:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves…6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Romans 13:1-2, 6-7
If we bristled when people referred to our last President as “W” or implied that he was unintelligent, we must resist the temptation to be similarly disrespectful to President Obama. He’s not a foreigner, a Muslim, a socialist, or an anti-American Constitution-burner. He’s the duly elected President of the United States of America. We’re commanded by God to respect and honor him, even when we disagree with his leadership.
The role of the faith community is connectivity. The spirit of fear and partisanship divides and disconnects, making it difficult for those of different income levels, sexual orientations, faith traditions, and income levels to feel connected to one another. Unity without uniformity is the answer. Our nation and the world will become a better place [italics] because of our differences, not in spite of them.