I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph 4:1-3 ESV
So much division. Is there hope for working together without sameness being the target? One answer for hope is to find your “third”. Ecclesiastes 4:12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
The “third” is the unifying element which binds unlike things together. A common enemy can be a third. Two brothers fighting each other will quickly swivel to the outsider who starts to pick on one of the brothers. School rivals unite the band, the players and all of the fans to defeat the other school in sports.
A common vision or goal is another example of a third. Coach Saban invites strong athletes to join in the “process” (his process) to become a winner on the field and in life. His teams continue to perform at the highest caliber because of a common goal.
The differences become secondary to the goals or the enemy. The differences don’t disappear or have to be eliminated, rather they are reordered in preference to the “third” as being number one objective.
Okay, so how do you find your “third” in your marriage, our country, with other followers of Jesus?
- Marriage – Sometimes opposites attract. Introverts and extroverts get married. How do they stay together when they are so different?
- Commitment to love one another through the vows – to have and behold from this day on, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.’
- Loving commitment becomes the higher connector “the third” to all differences.
- Country – there is no doubt our partisan divisions are huge. Some forecast them as irreconcilable.
- In the past and hopefully continuing into the future the “constitution of the United States” was our “third”. This “third” found its expression in the pledge of allegiance. Read it slowly and think about the implications of each phrase.
- “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
- I see several unifying words – united, one, indivisible (holding dividing things together), and for all
- Under God is no longer a unifying concept – except when disaster over takes us. We cry out to God for saving.
- The church (the one body of Christ) – the sheer number of denominational factions and divisiveness among believers make us look hypocritical when calling for oneness. There is hope
- The “third” for the church is the leading of the Holy Spirit among believers as evidenced with the priority of embodying the values found in verse 2 and the urgency expressed in verse 3.
- Verse 2 – humility, patience and gentleness are character qualities with the “other” person receiving the benefits from the exercise of these values. When I am humble, you miss my arrogance and pride. When I respond with patience, you experience validation of your views. When I am gentle, you feel the joy of your true worth.
- Verse 3 – “Eager” is understood as urgency with speed. Not time to sit on the sidelines and wait to pursue the bonds of peace. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead in peace.
- Jesus prayed for the oneness of His followers. This prayer reflects that oneness is obtainable and a worthy goal to pursue.
There is always more that is common among us rather than divides us. Sadly there will be backstops which arise in which we can go no further in our walking together. In those times, looking for a “third” can still help. Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Find the agreement – and continue to walk in peace with one another. Find and pursue your “third”.
Blessings love y’all