"These five fingers," says Lucy. "Individually they're nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold."
"Which channel do you want?" asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, "Why can't you guys get organized like that?"
There is a lot to be said for unity, working together for the cause of Christ. God accomplishes great things for the Kingdom when the people of God look to Him as One people. In the scripture there is a transition of power from King David to King Solomon, and the common theme is unity: All the people praised, all the people partied, David and Solomon are together, the leaders are all in agreement. The people of God are created to worship the Lord, to serve the Lord, to love the Lord, as ONE. Read through today’s scripture and you cannot miss the unity of the people.
~ Unity begins with each person desiring unity. 1 Chron. 29:20 READ. David is handing his kingship to his son Solomon. David desire the unity of the people. He could have fought to keep all power to the end, but he looks to God and sees the common good greater than his own power. There is a time when WE is more important than ME… Unity begins with each person looking for the good of the whole.
The people who came alongside Jesus demonstrate what it means to be centered in Christ. The disciples of Jesus were so different: soft spoken, thunderheads, quick tempered, sensitive…. They also had strong differences of opinions when it came to politics! One disciple is called a zealot ~~ he wanted to fight the Romans to overthrow the ruling power of the land in order to restore Israel to govern themselves. Another disciple is a tax collector meaning he joined the Romans and accepted the subservient role of Israel in their own land. On paper, A zealot and a tax collector would never be on the same team, but they do…. How do they do it? They each have a relationship with Jesus. They don’t need to understand each other. They both need to be understood by Jesus. He is the hub.
I laugh when non-believers on social media criticize the church because they assume whatever the Pastor says the people blindly follow, especially when it comes to politics. If there are churches like that, I don’t think I want to be a part of that church. I think it is awesome all of you think for yourselves, have opinions, [sometime I wish you’d listen to my superior wisdom….] The key is for each of us to have a relationship with Christ. I am humbled to be a part of a church here in Sumas of diverse people. As we strive to keep Christ at the center, each of us sincerely looking to Him to guide us, we don’t have to understand each other, we just need to seek to understand Christ and open ourselves to be understood by Him.
David sees the unity of the people as more important than himself. He invites the people to worship God together as an act of submission to God. Unity comes through praising God because the focus is on Him.
~ I love the next verses in 1 Chronicles 29:21-22a. These verses describe a great party! READ. How do people unify together? Celebrate and have a big party. Did you get the size of this party, 1000 bulls, 1000 rams and 1000 male lambs, plus drinks and other sacrifices. In the O.T. system there were different kinds of sacrifices. Because they ate the sacrifices rather than burn them completely, that means these are what is called Peace Offerings. (See Leviticus 7:11–21.) Peace offerings are voluntary gifts to God to say thank you, to say I love you… it’s a crude comparison, but if a husband and wife fight, and the husband is feeling bad, he might stop and buy a rose to give to his wife as a peace offering. The people want to be right with God, they want to be one with Him, they desire to be His people, so they voluntarily bring animals to sacrifice, and that means a big party.
People that are unified like to be together, to celebrate, to enjoy one another. These are not complex verses. 1 Chron. 29:22 says they ate and drank and enjoyed being together in the presence of God. I’m thinking a healthy church parties with lots of food! Amen. Did I mention next week is Potluck Dinner? I think we should modify our church constitution and add a Party Commission: any volunteers to be on it?
~ People that are united work together. From an historical perspective, it is amazing David and Solomon actually appear to share the power of the throne. That is unheard of in other nations in those days…. There is no sense of animosity or competition between the two kings. Unity is forged through respect, recognizing the different roles and gifts of one another, affirming the place of the people and the leaders and every spiritual gift.
~ There is another powerful but subtle lesson in these verses. The lesson is based on what is NOT said in Chronicles. Chronicles pretty much tells the same story as that of the books of Samual and Kings. However, Chronicles omits the huge struggle of the transition of power from David to Solomon. Chronicles is written perhaps 500 years after the time of David. The people of the Israel had been deported away from the land, and now they return to face ruins and destruction. Chronicles is written to inspire the people to pick up the pieces and let God do something great among them once again. Chronicles tells the story but leaves out the struggle and simply goes to the bottom line that the people of God found unity and affirmed Solomon as King.
This is how Chronicles tells the story. READ 1 Chron. 29:22-23, “and all Israel obeyed him.” You want to know what is omitted in Chronicles? A whole lot of dirty laundry. 12-13 chapters of dirt. If you were to turn back to 2 Sam. 9 and start flipping through the next 10-11 chapters, Wars are omitted, David and Bathsheiba, the major uprising of Solomon’s older brother Absolam that tried to win over the people and force his way onto the throne, a second rebellion. Pretty much all the wars, deceit, fighting, messy transition from one King to the next told in 2 Sam. 9-20 is omitted. Chronicles simply jumps to the bottom line of Solomon: “And all Israel obeyed him.”
This church has been around 104 years in Sumas, add another 15-20 years before that. There are times of tension, crazy decisions. If anyone really wants to dig I’m sure you can find stories. How could there not be rough moments? Learn from them, but go on, don’t make the hardships the main thing. I love the Sumas Church because we are real people that go through stuff but we are together, an imperfect people who do our best to keep God at the center of everything we do.
There comes a time when it is necessary to let the dirty laundry go as individuals: the past insult, the poor judgement, the disrespectful attitude, and let people change. If somebody has hurt me I sometimes need to be satisfied they have changed before I can trust too much, but my prayer is constantly that I need to let others change. We hold too many grudges.
Chronicles quickly goes to the bottom line in David’s day when Solomon became King and the people were unified, “and all Israel obeyed him.” In the days when Chronicles was written, dwelling on the dirty laundry was not judged to be helpful. Sometimes we just need reassurance that all is well. If we dwell too much on everything that was offensive it is too deep and we find ourselves overwhelmed once again. I surely do not want to be defined by all my past stupid decisions and questionable actions. We need to let one another change. There is a long wonderful list of “one anothers” in the Bible that define what it means to be members of God’s Church, Love one another, forgive one another, be kind to one another… add to the list: Let one another change.
There comes a time when we need to let the dirty laundry go… I purposefully forget some of the rebellious decisions my children made and only see them as the wonderful young adults they are becoming… we need to let go of the harsh words spoken by the person sitting next to you, your fellow Church family members that had an opinion you thought was crazy…
I’d like to end with the quotation I printed in the bulletin: "Believers are never told to become one; we already are one and are expected to act like it.” - Joni Eareckson Tada
When I first read that I thought that is not true, but then as I considered it I thought there is wisdom in the words. I thought of that powerful truth in Eph. 4:4-6: There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. When the Bible talks about getting along with one another, it is not telling us to create something new, but rather to fulfill the calling God has already created us to be. God created us to be ONE IN HIM.
In the great High Priestly Prayer of Jesus in John 17, Jesus prays, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are to me and I am in you.” (John 17:20-21). In the great mystery of God, the very nature of the relationship of Jesus to God is inherently that they are one, not anything that is to be achieved but something that amazes us.
The Unity of God’s people leads to great things because God’s desire is for His people to be ONE. May we seek to become what God has already created us to be. May we affirm one another as an important part of the whole. May Praise and Parties be a part of our lives together. May we affirm the gifts each one contributes to give wholeness and strength to the body of Christ. May we learn to let go of the dirty laundry that holds us back in fully embracing and respecting one another and see each other as forgiven people that are loved and understood by God. Even though we are different in strengths, personalities and backgrounds, may we find our unity through Christ as each of us goes to Christ and is blessed by Christ ~ I don’t have to understand you, I only need to know that Jesus Christ loves you beyond measure.
God accomplishes great things for and through His people who are unified through in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.