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commUNITY

The air was crisp, but the sun was shining brightly, so I decided to go for a walk with my daughter along the Mississippi River. We were enjoying ourselves when, in a matter of minutes, we became trapped between the river and a running train that suddenly came to a stop. I began to panic and my brain started running many “what if” scenarios while my sweet girl busied herself, throwing rocks rocks in the river to see the beautiful ripples. What if the train never moves again? What if it starts raining? This is the story of my life and that of many others; the “what IF” statements. What if I was taller, what if I had a louder/softer voice, what if I was only American and not Mexican...what if!?!

Then I started to wonder; what if I hopped onto the train? Where would it take me? Would I enjoy the adventure? Would I be missed? Would I miss my family? The suspense of the moment led me to meditate on the word “unity.” The definition of “unity” is the state of being united or joined as a whole. Yes, I would miss my family. I had no reason to escape with this fast-moving train because the unity I feel in my little family creates a rock-solid bond with them as a whole.


This is what the Bible says about unity, “Now, this is the goal: to live in harmony with one another and demonstrate affectionate love, sympathy, and kindness toward other believers. Let humility describe who you are as you dearly love one another. Never retaliate when someone treats you wrongly, nor insult those who insult you, but instead, respond by speaking a blessing over them—because a blessing is what God promised to give you.” 1 Peter 3:8-9

Eventually the train moved and my daughter and I were able to go about our walk. But I went to bed that evening with a heavy heart wondering how I live out unity daily. The verse I read seemed to be the opposite of what I see in this season of the world in which I live, and it often feels like everyone’s at each other’s throats. I wrestle with how to believe in the power of commUNITY, and for the first time I see the word “UNITY” in “community.” I search some more in my Bible, and I find, “So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity—with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy.” Philippians 2:4 TPT

In the stillness of the night, God connected the dots and shalom settled my soul. The image of the rail cars connected and coupled together, forming a train, which then works together efficiently as one “unit,” united on a mission came to the forefront of my mind. It has rail cars with many different colors and shapes and sizes, all working together to deliver the cargo. Such an analogy is all of us too, with ONE mission and message to deliver - the mighty blood of Christ. He is real and will change and heal ALL our colorful hearts and skins.


How do we reconcile the difference between living completely “unified” as Christ followers and living in “oneness” with one another? Unity is defined as “the state of being united or joined as a whole”; and oneness is defined as “the fact or state of being unified or whole, though the compromise of two or more parts.”

In the book of Ephesians, Chapter 4, we hear about the unity of the body of Christ. It speaks upon how every part of the “body” has a purpose. We are a powerful body of skilled, talented, destined beings connected by faith and held together by perfect love. The problem arises when we believe that everyone should look the same and be the same to preserve unity.

There is a rebellious part of us that wants everyone to agree in all things religious, political, and lifestyle. This unconscious desire is dangerous and causes division in the church. Legalism is sneaky and it breaks us apart into a "comm-unity" losing the opportunity to grow as one body, as sons and daughters of the Most High.


Back to my ‘what if’ statements:

What if we lived in oneness with each other?

What if we took unity a step farther to oneness in Christ?

What if we took a posture of humility - with each other and the Lord?

It's time for us to take our egos out of the equation. There is a place for each part of the body of Christ. Just like the train that needed each individual rail car to accomplish its mission, we are uniquely created to move freely on purpose for a purpose. We join with other unique railcars to accomplish a mission.

My prayer for our homes, community, and world is that we find peace amidst differences. I pray we find an increase of love and compassion in our own hearts towards our brothers and sisters in Christ. There is room for all, and we have a responsibility to bear all things with one another while empowering each others’ gifts. It is easy to try and script a recipe for what unity should look like and take it under our own hands for the warm and cozy, yet Ephesians 4 has a roadmap for the posture and position that bears the most fruit and reflects the fullness of Christ that will ultimately unite our hearts.

“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call… But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” Ephesians 4:1-7


 

Erika Andrade is the wife of one adventurous warrior for 15 years, mama to 4 kingdom arrows (ages 3-12), Procter and Gamble manager for 17 years, and ambassador of truth and grace to many hermanas(os). Above all, a daughter of the most high King made on purpose, for a purpose. She was born into a family with hard-working, Mexican immigrant parents who settled in the Chicago area where she was raised. She lived in Cincinnati, OH for 15 years and has been in Cape Girardeau, MO for 3 years.


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