We are not optimistic about world politics. We do have faith that the church can give witness to unity and that this witness is the best service we can do for the world. Full community, full agreement, is possible! It is possible through faith in God, in Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. This is what our life is about.
Mutual persuasion does not do it. God does it, speaking to us through the Holy Spirit. This Spirit not only assures us of our salvation – that he has accepted us – but his speaking to us also makes us certain even in the so-called “trifles” or small matters. He prompts us also in making decisions such as buying a meadow, or whatever it may be. Unanimity is the first sign.
Only if we have willing, sincere, and open hearts will we find unanimity in our convictions. We have never found it disturbing when people have come to us representing convictions that differ from ours. On the contrary, that is more fruitful than if we had no chance to hear opposing ideas. We believe that a free exchange of ideas can help people to recognize the truth, thanks to a Spirit that does not originate with us human beings. Then, no matter how diverse our opinions may have been, through the ultimate truth we will all be united. Each one will bring from the storehouse of his or her earlier convictions those elements that are true, and that person will find these again. And the more varied our different backgrounds are, the richer the fruits of this diversity will be. A united conviction can never be produced by forcing anyone to comply. Only the Holy Spirit with his power of inner persuasion leads people from freedom of opinions to true unity.
It is a remarkable thing when people decide something unanimously. It is the opposite of making a majority decision. Unanimity means that nobody disagrees with it or opposes it, not even in secret (1 Cor. 1:10).
When people believe in unity, it creates a very strong bond. It is a deplorable fact that some who call themselves Christians are so very disunited, not only in the various world churches but also among those who try to be real Christians.
And it is no help at all to decide to be silent about those subjects people don’t see eye to eye on. Many people feel: Today is the day for worship, the day to go to church, to serve God; tomorrow I will be at my job and lead my personal and family life. How will such people ever find unity and harmony within, let alone with others?
There is nothing that surpasses perfect unity. That is God’s mystery – joy and unity in his creative Spirit. So the question now is: Do we really believe in God? Do we really believe that he will triumph in his intent to bring about unity? Do we believe that it will happen here and now, provided we want nothing but God and his way?
Not a Human Bond
Because the flame from the other world really does come to us, we can say with assurance that we are not satisfied with finding an intellectual unanimity. It is not enough to set a common goal and use all our willpower to reach it; nor is it enough to vibrate together in an emotional experience. We know that something quite different has to come over us that will lift us out of this purely human level.
Just as the sun’s rays constantly shine upon our earth, just as lightning from the clouds brings down light and fire, so too an element has to burst into our midst that does not come from us. It will not come from our noblest feelings or from what is holiest within us. It has to be something that overwhelms us, something we cannot give to each other. We witness to the fact that this overpowering element makes us conscious of our unity and brings us to completely united thought, will, and feeling (Eph. 3:14–19).
Adapted from God’s Revolution (Walden, NY: Plough, 2021).
Article edited for length and clarity.