I've been thinking about unity quite a bit over the past couple of weeks. Here are some reasons why:
-- On Super Bowl Sunday we hosted a party for families at our church. 32 people showed up, and 18 of them were children! We had a great time, watching football, eating way too much food, laughing and enjoying good fellowship. It was so soothing and energizing to be around other Christians in a different setting than the church building. Usually, once we leave the church building on Sunday, I'm in the mission field (office, errands, highways) all week, so this was a nice little oasis.
-- During halftime of the game, I led a short devotional on the topic of unity, mentioning that surely there were similar halftime discussions going on all over the world. It was pretty cool to think that there may be Christians in Mexico, Spain, Singapore... all doing the same thing that we were doing -- singing, talking about God and encouraging each other. Even though I may not actually meet my Mexican, Spanish and Asian brethren until heaven, knowing that they exist sure builds me up today.
-- I got a special present in the mail this week: a DVD from my parents that included a splicing of all their old 8mm video reels from the late 1970s. The video started with my birth, and over the next 80 minutes covered through my third birthday. At the end of the video, my parents were in exactly the same stage of life that I am today (a 3-year-old and a 7-month-old)! How encouraging and unifying to be reminded that they have been here before and are rooting for me now in my own journey of parenting.
-- The video took a special turn for me when my brother showed up on the scene. Even though we don't really talk much today, we still have a special bond (he used to be frustrated that I could "feel" him sneaking up behind me). To this day, other family members won't take on my brother and I in the game Taboo -- we're just in each other's heads too much to make it a fair contest. If he ever needed anything, there's no doubt I would do anything I could for him, and he would do the same for me. It's just an implicit reality of our family, and one that I hope I never take for granted.
-- Some of my "guy" communities are still strong and fun. One of them is the JPFitness message board, which is listed in my links section. I'm close enough to several of those guys that I'll be joining them at an annual fitness summit in April. Laugh if you will, but just because the friendships started over the internet doesn't make them any less real. Also, I got an email today from an old friend inviting me back onto their semi-pro baseball team. I've got a lot of thinking to do before accepting something like that, but it was a powerful reminder that all those old friendships are still alive, and would spark back to full strength within minutes of reuniting.
When Elijah was feeling alone, after defeating the prophets of Baal and Asherah and knowing Jezebel would want revenge, God reminded him of the truth:
"Meanwhile, I'm preserving for myself seven thousand souls: the knees that haven't bowed to the god Baal, the mouths that haven't kissed his image." -- 1 Kings 19:17
Must feel pretty good to have 7,000 friends on your side, huh? I wouldn't know... I have millions on my side.