Bearing his ‘standard,’ amongst friend and foe alike
As a nation we celebrated our independence this week. When I think back to those days so long ago, I realize I cannot begin to grasp the momentous changes taking place in the lives of those founding a nation. The energy and commitment to bring about this change required a unity of purpose.
When Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address, equality and justice continued to be one of our growing edges. Even today as we move into our future there are national conversations around issues of justice and equality where people stand, not in unity, but in opposition.
Still, we strive to live out those words written so long ago. How did our founding fathers come to agreement, draft and sign our Declaration of Independence? As a recipient of that legacy, I am grateful that they did.
Our founding fathers had a unity of purpose to create a nation. Christ calls us to a unity of purpose to love all nations.
Jesus tells Nicodemus in the Gospel of John that he came so that the world might be saved. He came because God loves the world. Jesus speaks about love often. He commands us to love our neighbors, love our enemies, even love ourselves. In John, as Jesus is speaking to his disciples, he tells them to love one another.
His commandment to love one another, is directed to them as an internal command. He reminds his disciples of this again and again. It is as if he knows it is their most difficult challenge and ours. He also knows it is our most credible witness to the world.
The hymn, “They’ll Know We are Christians by our Love,” written by Peter R. Sholtes in 1968, is based on John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (NRSV) His first verse calls us to be one in the spirit and one in the Lord, until unity is restored. We are far from unified.
We stand against one another on many of the issues our nation is struggling with today. Each side claiming to have scriptural authority for the stance they embrace. Battle lines are already drawn and the world is watching.
Our task is to come to the table of the Lord and together seek God’s will. We may find that we have more in common than we knew. We may find that we have a unity of purpose. We may find that we are all seeking God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
We have an opportunity to be a witness to the world should we choose to come together and seek to understand one another as we seek God’s will for our nation and for the world.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, if we can love one another when we disagree as well as when we agree, then the world will know how love can change the world.