Many of us have had that Kumbaya experience. Perhaps it was at a retreat as everyone sang around the campfire, basking in the warm, fuzzy feelings of fellowship. The moment was so special and everyone was just so wonderful—that is until you returned to the lodge only to discover that some schmucks had eaten the chocolate candy bar you had squirreled away in your room. So much for warm and fuzzy—somebody is going to pay!
My underlying point is that unity must be Christ-centered. The idea of everyone just getting along like one big happy family simply doesn’t work. You may really want world peace, but eventually someone will eat your chocolate. What then? Love isn’t some cheap commodity that can be purchased in a dollar store. The ability to forgive those who hurt and offend us can’t be downloaded from the internet. If love and forgiveness came that easily, we’d all have an abundance!
People will let us down. Sometimes it’s an unintentional oversight. Or perhaps a person means well and is misguided. The fact that we all have self-centered tendencies doesn’t help. As long as even one person performs a selfish action, someone will need to forgive. In a world with billions of self-absorbed people we’re in trouble (as evidenced by the reality around us).
Our reality is that the noblest of all thoughts for unity mean little unless empowered by some type of mechanism to transform the core motivations of human hearts. This leads us to both the centrality and the beauty of the Gospel.
“For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:14-18 (NET)
While this blog format doesn’t allow for the opportunity to explore this passage in depth, the imagery is clear and certain. He is our peace. Through the cross He has destroyed the wall of hostility that separates us. Any other methods and motivations toward unity fall woefully short when confronted by the harsh realities of life. The real question for the church is whether or not we will allow Christ to be our peace and to destroy the walls of hostility that separate us.
The Gospel really is a universal message of community that goes well with or without chocolate.