No man is an island entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
As well as if a promontory were,
As well as any manor of thy friend’s,
Or of thine own were.
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
It tolls for thee.
English Christian metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631).
I am sure many have read this poem. Certainly the opening words are familiar to us all.
The Apostle Paul in prison has spent 3 chapters writing on what Christ has done and the impact of His work on the Church. The next 3 chapters are the outworking of that. So for example, because there is n0 dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile any longer and because Christ dwells in our hearts therefore, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4 v3
Make every effort to stay together in community. Society protects the violation of our rights. Our rights have become more important than community. The result has been that we have many nomads, rootless people moving round in circles of life, belonging to no one. From day one of lockdown the message from the Church to the Church has been connect. It has been the thing that leaders have focused on more than ever. Coming out of lockdown what should be seen more than anything will be how the Church has improved in community. All of us have a part to play.
Let me tell you a story.
An ANT went to the bank of a river to quench its thirst, and being carried away by the rush of the stream, was on the point of drowning. A DOVE sitting on a tree overhanging the water plucked a leaf and let it fall into the stream close to her. The ANT climbed onto it and floated in safety to the bank. Shortly afterwards a BIRD-CATCHER came and stood under the tree, and laid his lime-twigs for the DOVE, which sat in the branches. The ANT, perceiving his design, stung him in the foot. In pain the BIRD-CATCHER threw down the twigs, and the noise made the DOVE take wing.
The moral of the story: team work makes life work better. Just small steps make the world a better place.
Here’s another story:
A CROW, half-dead with thirst, came upon a BUCKET which had once been full of water; but when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the BUCKET he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he could not reach far enough down to get at it. He tried, and he tried, but at last had to give up in despair. Then a thought came to him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the BUCKET. Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the BUCKET. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the BUCKET. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the BUCKET. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the BUCKET. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the BUCKET. At last, at last, he saw the water mount up near him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able to quench his thirst and save his life.
Make every effort ….
Unity in community doesn’t come easily, we have to work at it, overcome some things and put in the hard work. But if the Church isn’t going to die then it has to make the effort in how it treats people.
Here are some pebbles:
- Defeat ego.
“I don’t need help. I can do it on my own. Leave it to me, No one has to tell me how to live.”
The first step away from individualism is simply to think of yourself less. Unity is conceived when we think about “we” more than “me”. Spinning more plates doesn’t increase your talent – it increases your likelihood of dropping a plate. What’s it going to take to make us think we cannot do everything on our own? we need others.
- Make the Time
Other people are never convenient. If you wait till you feel like it, you will never have genuine fellowship. The time excuse says that others are not that important.
- Be respectful
We’re all different. We all have someone who irritates us. They are there for their benefit but also ours. When you stop long enough to understand someone then you know what they’ve been through and why they are like they are.
- Be a loyal supporter.
If the devil is the accuser. Then if I step into that place of criticising and complaining about God’s family then I am doing the devils job.
- Don’t listen to gossip.
We know not to speak it, but don’t listen to it. People who gossip to you will also gossip about you.