Theme: True Unity
In this week’s lessons, we see what true Christian unity looks like, and how it blesses everyone involved.
Scripture: Psalm 133:1-3
In 1978 Margaret Halsey, a columnist who frequently writes for Newsweek, wrote an article titled “What’s Wrong with Me, Me, Me?” Halsey referred to Wolfe’s description of the 70s as the “me” generation, highlighting the belief then rampant that “inside every human being, however unprepossessing, there is a glorious, talented and overwhelmingly attractive personality [which] will be revealed in all its splendor if the individual just forgets about courtesy, cooperativeness and consideration for others and proceeds to do exactly what he or she feels like doing.”1
The problem, as Halsey pointed out, is not that there are not attractive characteristics in most people but that human nature consists even more basically of “a mess of unruly primitive elements” which spoil the self-discovery. These unruly elements need to be overcome, not indulged. And this means that the attractive personalities we seek to discover really are not there to be discovered but rather are natures that need to be developed through choices, hard work and lasting commitments to others. When we ask, “What’s wrong with me?” it is the “me, me, me” that is the problem.
This affects our relations to other people too, because, in spite of what humanism seems to promise, it makes our world inhuman. And a failure to relate to other people hurts not only them, but also ourselves. 
Charles Reich in his best-selling book The Greening of America wrote:
Modern living has obliterated place, locality and neighborhood, and given us the anonymous separateness of our existence. The family, the most basic social system, has been ruthlessly stripped to its functional essentials. Friendship has been coated over with a layer of impenetrable artificiality as men strive to live roles designed for them. Protocol, competition, hostility and fear have replaced the warmth of the circle of affection which might sustain man against a hostile environment. 
He said that “America [has become] one vast, terrifying anti-community.”2
Are our churches exempt? Sometimes perhaps. But not everywhere and not always. Michael Scott Horton has written:
Our churches are one of the last bastions of community, and yet, they do not escape individualism….Many of us drive to church, listen to the sermon, say “hello” to our circle of friends, and return home without ever having really experienced community. Earlier evangelicalism was so focused on corporate spirituality that communion was taken with a common cup….We hear endless sermons on spiritual gifts and how the body of Christ is supposed to operate in concert. And yet, our services often are made up of the professionals (particularly the choir) who entertain us and the individual, separate believers who are entertained.3
Where does unity come from, then? And can it be found again once it has been lost? We have already seen that unity comes from God, and the answer to the second question is that it can be rediscovered and reestablished, but only as men and women get outside of themselves and submit their own selfish individualism to a higher and more worthy cause than self-indulgence. 
The Bible shows the way. As far back as the Garden of Eden we find God looking at the world he had made and observing, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). God wanted man to live with relationships and in harmony; so he created a woman with whom the man would be able to share God’s bounty and the joys of the work God gave to our first parents. And Adam did, until sin caused mutual accusations and disharmony. 
We find the same thing in the New Testament. When Jesus established the new people of God he did not do it by abandoning those who are saved from sin to themselves and their own devices, but by bringing them into a new fellowship: the Christian church (Matt. 16:18). 
And not only that. Jesus prayed for the church, and one thing he prayed is that God might give his people unity:
My prayer is not for them [the original disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:20-23). 
This is not an artificial or an enforced unity. It is a unity based on a common participation in Christ and his gospel. It is analogous to the unity that is in God. 
1Margaret Halsey, “What’s Wrong with Me, Me, Me?” Newsweek, April 17, 1978, p. 25. 
2Charles Reich, The Greening of America: The Coming of a New Consciousness and the Rebirth of a Future (New York: Bantam Books, 1971), p. 7. 
3Michael Scott Horton, Made in America: The Shaping of Modern American Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1991), p. 169. 
Study Questions: 

What spoils self-discovery? 
How can unity be found again once it has been lost? 
What was Jesus’ prayer for the church? 

Reflection: Think about your church attendance and practices. Have you experienced real community? If not, why is that the case, and what do you need to do? 
For Further Study: To learn more about unity, download for free and listen to James Boice’s message from Ephesians 4, “Unity! Unity!” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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