We are one

April 1st, 2016

God is love. There is anger and hatred in God as well as love, but God is never said to be anger or hatred; no, not even justice itself. Rather God prefers to disclose to humans that “God is love.”

God joined us together as human beings. We are not dogs, not wolves. Then let’s not be so to each other. The apostle gives the reason why we must keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: because “you are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all” (Eph 4:4-6 CEB). Here you have seven strong reasons to join together for unity.


The meanest member is in the body. Is it attractive for the body of Christ to be split and torn? What but madness can cause one member to tear and split from another?


“All these things are produced by the one and same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:11 CEB). And is not this one Spirit a spirit of love and meekness? What does a contrary, contentious spirit do in you who profess to be a Christian?


Are you not heirs, joint heirs, of the same kingdom? And do you contend as if one belonged to the kingdom of light and the other to the kingdom of darkness?


You serve the same Lord and master. Is it for the credit of a master that his servants are always quarrelling and fighting each other? Is it not a tedious thing in a family that the members can never agree?


Even though we don’t agree together in some things of lesser importance, we still agree in one faith. Why should we not then keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? Our agreement in the faith, one would think, should swallow up all the disagreements.


We are baptized into Christ’s death. And isn’t that to show that we should be dead to all those things in the world that cause strife and contention among people? Our baptism is our badge, our attire.


Though there be three persons in the divine nature, and every person is God, yet there is but one God. Here is a union infinitely beyond all unions that any creature can be capable of. The mystery of this union is revealed to us to make us in love with union.

Francis Asbury was a key founder of the American Methodist movement, which grew at incredible speed in the nineteenth century. Asbury observed that it took only a few years for division to emerge among the most passionate and zealous followers of the Wesleyan way. So he repurposed and abridged two earlier works to create The Causes, Evils, and Cures of Heart and Church Divisions. This book was recommended in 1792 by Bishop Asbury for study by early Methodists as a spiritual cure for the human tendency to love self and ideas more than we love others: our colleagues, our neighbors, and our political adversaries.

This article is excerpted from Asbury’s book, which is updated by Abingdon Press and available again through Cokesbury in two editions: for a limited time in a hardcover edition and in a paperback study edition, which includes study questions suitable for cultivating spiritual formation within individuals and among a community.

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