What would it take for people today to co-exist in peace and harmony?
I know a Russian pastor whose attempts to bring peace was one of the most moving things I’ve heard from Ukraine in recent months. At the start of the war he wrote a public letter to Ukrainian Christians to ask for forgiveness for his country’s actions, and wrote a moving account of meeting to pray with them, with many tears. He did so at risk of his life, and he and his family have now had to go into hiding from their own government, simply for wanting to pray with people from Ukraine.
Why is unity so attractive? This short song, Psalm 133, captures the beauty of unity through two images:
– Oil (v2), an image in the Bible of well-being and favour: it makes our faces shine; it moves us from sorrow to joy; pouring it out is a sign of warm welcome(1).
– Dew (v3). The image of the two mountains is of both a physical and relational miracle. Mount Hermon was in the north, Zion in the south: two areas of people who were divided. Hermon was high and rain-soaked; Zion smaller and drier. In this miracle they are brought together, drenched, refreshed, and nurtured, all of which would bring growth and fertility.
This song is focused on unity between Christians (v1). But this is important for everyone, because, somewhat surprisingly, Christian unity is a vital step towards world peace. Unity for all people cannot be achieved without God, but can only be achieved through him.
God cares deeply about world peace: his entire purpose in the world is to bring it about. The reason Jesus came to the world was to reconcile all things to God, and to reconcile all people groups to each other, through his death on the cross(2). He has begun to do this through his people. Christian communities are unique among all human communities because they are so diverse: people who are vastly different are reconciled together, and love each other as family. It’s a miracle (like the dew), and such a blessing (like the oil). And it’s through this united community that the rest of the world can see God, and come to experience the peace he brings(3).
Sadly, unity is not often what the church is known for. It may be that you have experienced the pain of disunity among Christians; and if so, I am sorry. Disunity happens when Christians depart from the way Jesus has called them to live. However, the more common – though less-publicised – stories are like the one above, when they follow him as they should. Maybe you have witnessed unity among Christians and wondered, ‘why do they love each other so much?’ Why would Christians in Russia and Ukraine seek not to blame but to ask forgiveness of each other? Hopefully through this you can begin to see how much God loves the world, and how much he cares for peace: he cares so much that he was willing for his Son to die, to reconcile all people to himself and to each other.
PRAYER God, thank you that you care about world peace. Help me to experience it: please introduce me to some Christians who can show me what true unity looks like. Through them I long to see you, and know the peace that only you can bring. Amen.
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
2 It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life for evermore.
– – – – –
(1) Read more here: Psalm 104:15, Isaiah 61:3, Psalm 23:5
(2) Read more here: Colossians 1:19-20, Ephesians 2:14-18, Colossians 3:11
(3) Read more here: 1 John 4:12