To tolerate disunity with the people God loves—particularly disunity in the body of Christ; or to do things that could lead to disunity is utterly unthinkable. To allow or contribute to disunity is to be fundamentally at odds with the purpose of God in human history. It may be common in our world, but it is not normal in God’s eyes.
The apostle Paul says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.” (Ephesians 4 v 3) Paul doesn’t say create unity. This is not a human project. This oneness existed long before us. Paul uses a rare verb of intense urgency. John Ortberg writes that the sense of this command is, “Yours is the initiative! Do it now! Pay any price! Spare no pain! You are to do it! I mean it!”
In light of the beauty of community and the staggering cost the Trinity paid to invite us into it, Paul says, human beings dare not take it lightly. The doctrine of the Trinity is honored when the oneness that characterizes it—the “unity of the Spirit”—is prized and guarded and revered by the one true church.
Whenever human beings tolerate unresolved conflict in friendships or families or churches, whenever gossip and slander go unchallenged, whenever ministry leaders attack other Christians in a spirit of arrogance or want to believe and spread bad things about those who disagree with them—wherever the unity of the Spirit is treated cavalierly, the Trinity is dishonored. All day, in a million different ways, in our homes, our neighborhoods, our churches, our families, our friendships, and our cities, you and I are either moving the world a little closer to God’s picture of shalom—peace—or moving it a little farther away.
You now are invited to take your place in the eternal circle of self-giving love.
Every person you see, every moment of your life, is an opportunity to live in and extend the Fellowship of the Trinity. We have scores of opportunities each day. This is what each “human moment” can be about. Every time you forgive someone who hurt you, encourage someone who feels defeated, extend compassion to someone who stands alone, confront someone in love, open your heart to a friend, reconcile with an enemy, devote time to a child, you align yourself with God’s central purpose in this world.
Anne Lamott wrote, “The Gulf Stream will pass through a straw, provided that the straw is aligned with the Gulf Stream, and not at cross-purpose with the Gulf Stream.” To live in and contribute to God’s dream of community is the reason you were born. It is what you were created for. Neglect this, and it doesn’t matter what else you do—how many pyramids you build, how impressive your resumé—you are at cross-purposes with the Gulf Stream. Neglect this, and you will die a failure. Devote yourself to this one task, to loving “as-is people,” and no matter what else you may not achieve, you will lead a magnificent life.