Unity: ‘Works’ for Me

By Nancy Vandemark


Unity is one of those words confusing to me. What actually does it mean? Some people may see it as conformity, all believing the same thing. In most cases, a group of people do not believe the same thing about everything, but they have a common cause or belief they are unified around.

But is it just common beliefs? As I was studying about unity for this month’s issue, I ‘just happened’ to get to a section of a book I am reading, Under the Overpass – A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski.

Let me first give you a little background on the book. Mike Yankoski is a dedicated Christian. In his book he writes, “Sure, I claimed that Christ was my stronghold, my peace, my sustenance, my joy. But I did all that from the safety of my comfortable upper-middle-class life. I never really had to put my claims to the test.” He then came up with a radical idea. “What if I stepped out of my comfortable life with nothing but God and put my faith to the test alongside of those who live with nothing every day?”

Mike decided to put himself into a homeless position and was joined by another Christian young man named Sam. This was an unusual idea he developed into reality with further prayer and counseling. I would suggest making no judgment on this idea until you have read the book.

Mike and Sam had been together constantly for about two months under adverse conditions. Even though they depended on each other “for support, accountability, understanding, friendship and mercy...” they eventually had a meltdown. It started over something small and then got bigger. The big blow out came when they “were arguing one of the finer points of Christian doctrine – the faith/work question: Can a person be saved with no good works to show for it or will genuine salvation always show itself in good works?” They got to a point where “we were ready to happily murder one another (in the name of God, of course).”

At that point, they finally decided it would be good to separate for a few hours. Mike prayed and spent time reading the Bible, admittedly “to find Scriptures to prove I [he] was right and Sam was wrong.” But then he read Colossians 3:12-14

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

As those words sank into his heart, Mike wondered, “How had my genuine affection and admiration for Sam given way to such complete frustration? By holding adamantly to my own notions of the “correct way” to believe and behave, I decided Sam and I were doing exactly what Paul said not to.” God showed them both in the time they were separated the importance of unity between them.

They also decided, “to put unity firmly in the ‘works’ column. We decided that the idea of unity just wasn’t going to be good enough. You can’t survive with just an idea. It won’t keep you safe. You can’t eat it. You can’t even give it away.”

Most of us are not living on the streets as these two young men were at the time. They depended on each other for their survival. That does not mean we do not need each other’s help.

When I am in need of food, shelter, or just the comfort of your hand on my shoulder to remind me Jesus still cares for me, I will not care if you believe God’s word exactly as I do. Your love for me will bind us together in unity.

 


Volume 10 Issue 5 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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