The Rarity of True Unity

The Rarity of True Unity

As a psychology student in college, I learned the word, “gestalt.” It basically means the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You can have flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder, vanilla and salt—but it all tastes much better if you bake the cake.Spiritually speaking, gestalt is a term that could describe unity in a 1st Corinthians 12 kind of way… “For the body is not one member but many…” Whether foot, hand, or eye—the body, united and synchronized as one organism, is far greater than the sum of its parts.

World flagsUnity is a powerful concept. Many organizations and even countries include the word “united” in their titles as a hopeful intention:

United States… United Nations… United Methodists… United Way… United Healthcare… United Airlines… United Kingdom…


But unity in any context is rare. The human condition is fraught with strife and division. Think of all the countless arenas: tribal, racial, economic, ethnic, gender, marital, denominational, religious, political, ethical, generational, international…the list goes on. There’s always something divisive. Jokes that start with, “there are only two kinds of people…” show how trivial it can get.

Team workGod is attracted to unity.

Psalm 133 says that unity among God’s people brings a commanded blessing. Commanded means “an authoritative order.” Like—it’s going to happen…it’s a given. Here’s a great example…

Back in 1996, the Promise Keepers movement was in full swing. Our town’s local chapter hosted a monthly men’s prayer breakfast. One month, a big flap ensued because local organizers had asked a Catholic priest to be the speaker. Some men in the group objected. Unfortunately, that kind of attitude still exists. Yet many interdenominational Christian groups today believe there can be unity on essentials, freedom on non-essentials, and charity towards all.

Holding Holy BiblePK national leadership instructed the local guys to go with the Holy Spirit. The local leaders in turn handed the microphone to the priest—a  man known as Father Joe. That morning, men from twenty-two different churches came to the breakfast. The priest gave the kindest homily on God’s expansive love as a Father. The presence of the Lord descended like a cloud in the room, as men held hands and wept during the prayer time. True brotherly unity commanded a blessing—and a miracle happened.

In a sense, the rarity of true unity is in itself a blessing. But there was more…

After the breakfast, a man named Dave approached my husband, Duncan, for prayer while others lingered. Dave had developed a discomforting growth in his throat. The mass had been surgically removed twice, but kept growing back larger each time. Dave was worried. He also lamented that his medical issue prevented him from getting insurance. Duncan put his hand on Dave’s throat and asked for God’s healing with a simple prayer.

High Angle View Of Men Praying And Standing In A CircleA week later, the growth in Dave’s throat was totally gone, including any trace of scar tissue! There was no medical explanation for it. Interestingly, the local PK leadership team included Dave’s surgeon and Dave’s insurance agent who attended different churches. Yet together they’d agreed to overcome denominational prejudice with unity by inviting the priest to speak.

And God commanded a blessing—the complete healing of Dave’s throat.

Miracles can also be signs. The head joins the body through the neck. Dave’s diseased neck could be viewed as symbolic. God wants Christ, the head, to have a healed connection with his church, the body. Unity with each other is an integral part of our connection with God.

Still unity doesn’t happen without humility. And humility is often the result of brokenness.

God once illustrated these principles to me in a dream: I was in a banquet hall full of people all seated at round tables. Eight people clustered around each table. Everyone had a candle at his or her place, but no one had any matches. Night was falling, and many felt concerned about the darkness. After searching everywhere for lighters, flint, and matches, we ran out of options.

Candles WaxAll at once, someone announced a new way to produce a flame. The people seemed willing to try. First, he instructed everyone to break their candles in half. Then at each table, he asked them  to hold their wicks together. When all eight wicks were joined, a spontaneous flame formed.  People oohed and ahhed throughout the banquet hall—amazed that such a thing was possible. It had never been done that way before. Soon, the entire room glowed with candlelight.

The symbolism of this dream was intriguing. It didn’t seem logical to break the candles or put our wicks together, but somehow that made the flame appear. Brokenness, humility, and unity were the key.

Bankrupt man showing empty pocketOften brokenness is a prerequisite to humility and unity. One definition of brokenness is “having given up all hope.” Sometimes reaching the end of yourself is the precise moment that God moves. God wants us to come to Him with “empty pockets, open hands,” as songwriter Jimmy Needham sings. Dave was running out of hope. He humbled himself and asked for prayer, and the unity of the men’s group set the atmosphere for God to command a blessing.

What are you doing bring unity in your realm of influence?


  1. LOVE.
    BEING MYSELF. (this would be the risky part….!!) but hey….god knows me so why fake it for others? i think he can use us for others sometimes so that another may say, “wow, if she can be a nutcase and not pretend to be holy when she’s not very, maybe i can be myself with my heavenly dad?”
    it’s really a relief the way i see it. hopefully helps the disease of self righteousness and brings unity. i don’t think there’s a cure for self righteousness, not 100% cure, as long as we’re in these human bodies, but progress can be made by trusting god to do it. yes?
    suzee B