Friday, November 23, 2007

Two knds of unity (Psalm 133)

A song of Ascents, of David

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, Aaron's beard.
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing - life forever.

- Psalm 133

The last thing Jesus prayed for before he went with his disciples to Gethsemane was "that they may be one, just as we are one," "that they may be perfected into a unit." Paul in Ephesians 4:11-13 wrote as follows about what that looks like, confirming just as Psalm 133 says that this unity that Jesus prayed for comes from above, from the Father, like the dew or like oil poured on the head of the anointed. It definitely does NOT come from ourselves:

"He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. . ."

He goes on to say that this unity is brought about by God through our doing the truth in love.

Since true unity is this precious, it's not amazing that it gets counterfeited. Instead of getting it from God, we manufacture our own. When they shouted "Sieg Heil" in the Nazis rallies at Nuremberg, they were finding their unity in Adolf Hitler. When they shout "United We Stand!" in the United States of America, they're plainly stating that they stand in their own unity, of their own devising, not in the God of truth.

These kinds of unity demand conformity and the annihilation of our integrity because, as James wrote, they do not come from above, but are earthly, soulish, and demonic (James 3:13-18). "Soulish" (Greek psychikos) contrasts with "spiritual," deriving from our appetite and lust rather than the anointing from above that we read about here in Psalm 133. It's grounded on unbelief, not looking to God for our provision but saying "What will we eat, what will we drink, with what will we be clothed, whose petroleum can we seize?" - all these things that the nations eagerly seek (Matthew 6:31-32).

As we read in Genesis 11, this earthly unity is the bitter enemy of the God of truth, being based on lying about how wonderful we are and how evil the others are that we are uniting against in hatred and fear, and God opposes it to the end. It's all about pride, and it makes the unity of God described here in Psalm 133 completely impossible.

The unity of God comes from above. It's obvious here that it's not of ourselves or our effort but the expression of God's grace, which he gives to the humble. Therefore we ascend into this unity as we humble ourselves, which is why this Psalm is called a song of ascents. Just as God resisted the unity of Babel because it was, as they say on their bumper stickers, THE POWER OF PRIDE, God gives the grace of true unity to the humble, when we look up to him in our need and emptiness, hearing and telling the truth. Two kinds of unity and two spirits behind them, the spirit of Christ and the spirit of Babel, of antichrist.


Blogger Cecilieaux said...

Although I am handicapped by lacking the God gene (I have been told by someone who knows me well that I never have believed), the quest for unity is an archetypal human endeavor well worth exploring and -- excluding God -- you do a fair number on it.

Instances of unity-seeking unmentioned: sex, various familial and friendship relationships, fashion. A famous and little practiced epigram of unknown origin states: "in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity."

The problem, of course, is what is essential?

Shavings Off My Mind

12/05/2007 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Please check out an Illuminated Understanding of (prior)Unity via these references.


Plus related references on the politics and culture of Unity.


1/09/2008 8:27 PM  

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