Editorial: Is Your Unity Showing?

Unity. National leaders promise to deliver it, workplaces strive for it, and sports teams hope to achieve it. But in many ways it remains as scarce in our world as unicorns, fairies and mermaids. With so much division present, unity sounds like something out of a fairy tale.

Its absence in the world was undoubtedly the same in the days of King David, who extolled the virtues of unity in Psalm 133, the penultimate Song of Ascents. The psalm’s first word informs us that unity is something to behold. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (KJV). Although deficient in this world, unity is something that can be (or at least should be) witnessed by all who observe the Lord’s people. Spurgeon wrote that unity “is a wonder seldom seen, therefore behold it! It may be seen, for it is the characteristic of real saints.” Maybe it’s time for an honest evaluation. Are we acting like real saints? Is our unity showing? Have we given the devil an opportunity (Eph 4:27) to divide us by social, economic or political issues? Does our behavior on social media foster unity or create division? If the world cannot see unity among us, there’s nowhere else to look.

The psalm’s two metaphors emphasize that unity is something from above. It is like the anointing oil which flowed down Aaron’s head and ran down his beard to his garments (v2), and like the dew which comes down from Mount Hermon to Zion’s hills (v3). Three times in three verses David employed imagery of something which “descended.” As worshippers “ascended” to Jerusalem, they would sing about what “descended.” Unity, like the oil and the dew, comes down to us from God above. “True unity, like all good gifts, is from above; bestowed rather than contrived, a blessing far more than an achievement.”[1] But although it does not originate with us, we are instructed to keep (or maintain) the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3). Our unity is maintained and displayed as we yield to God’s gracious Holy Spirit. Hopefully, our unity is showing.

But David also wants us to know that unity is something to enjoy. Perhaps now, more than ever, you are enjoying the great blessing of assembly unity. It is a beautiful thing to gather with the Lord’s people away from all the conflict, chaos and bickering of a divided and hostile world. David describes the blessings of unity as “good” and “pleasant” (v1). The dew brought “good” in the form of fruitfulness to the land, while the “pleasant” anointing oil exuded a fragrance that not only Aaron enjoyed but those around him. As we work together unitedly for the Lord, we will enjoy the blessing of spiritual fruit (1Co 3:6-9). Those around us, repulsed by the foul smells of division in our world, and perhaps even within organized religion, will be drawn to the fragrance of Christ we emit.

Unity is a reality already accomplished for us in Christ. But are we showing it? What the world can never achieve, but confessedly desires, ought to be seen in us. And if we have failed, the message we bring to them will be as believable as stories about unicorns, fairies and mermaids.

[1] Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150 (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 453.