“Out of many, one.”
Our national motto should remind Americans that unity is hard, disunity easy. Tyrants can command submission, but this is not true unity. Communists have no true “comrades,” since some comradeship is more comradely for some in a Soviet Union. Unity for humans is also not becoming homogeneous, since absorption by a political Borg is death of the individual not unity with a whole. Political unity comes from commonality and this commonality can be based on any number of factors.
The genius of the Founders was to make this commonality a set of ideals and not blood or family. Of course, the Founders, particularly in the evil of race based slavery, mocked their own ideals. Oddly the very system they created allowed Americans to see that in so far as he owned slaves Thomas Jefferson was a worse American, than any abolitionist. Slavery created disunity, not abolition, because slavery denied our deepest beliefs. Such national sin required national repentance, and as Abraham Lincoln reminded us, expiation and the fruits of repentance in good works.
America is great in part because she contains multitudes and these multitudes can exist in a mosaic of choices in many areas of human living. And yet as President Roosevelt reminded Americans too much focus on what divides us will ultimately destroy the United States. We can best fight injustice by recognizing it exists, but then establishing liberty and justice for all. We must be for American ideals, not merely against American failures. We must be for a positive and common moral vision, not just wish to be left alone.
For HBU graduation, President Robert Sloan quoted Roosevelt’s speech and then spoke of the unity Christians find in Christ Jesus. A verse he used was: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The President reminded us that Satan comes to divide, Christ comes to unite Christ’s body: the Church.
No decent person denies that the many injustices of the world must be confronted. The ways humans have found to divide themselves from other people and so allow themselves to feel special is limitless. Whenever a poor person starves, while his rich neighbor feasts, the Church of Jesus Christ must speak a word of judgment on the rich. But the Gospel is good news and so is not primarily focused on the one thing every human being has in common with every other: sin. Nobody is just, not one. Nobody is without hate, not one. We must repent of our sin, but then the focus must become Jesus Christ and not our sin.
End injustice, yes, but bring justice and unity. If we were to destroy all the vice of racism and leave nothing better in its place, then we would leave room for devils that might be even worse than the old racism. The Christian message is fundamentally that we are all one in Christ Jesus, not that we are autonomous agents. To be one, I might have to give up my ideas of self, many of my desires, and more than a few ideas. I want the mind, desires, and will of Christ, not my own mind, desires, and will.
God can be trusted with this authority, because He is good. He will take my submission and use it to make me whole. Even my deepest desires and picture of self may be distorted by biology, culture, or my own faults. God wishes to renew me as I should have been and cannot be without Him and at the end of this process I will have achieved a liberation that will leave me in community with other liberated beings.
I can be most myself when I let go of what I think makes “me” me and allow God to create a unity with others where none exists. We are one in Christ and then I can find my own unique function in that unity secure that no person can be better than another at the ground of being, because all our being is founded in Christ Jesus. There is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free in Christ Jesus and so I let go all my pride in my ethnicity, sex, or social status. God will give me back the good gifts of people, sexuality, and role that He designed for me.
Incarnate Love can be trusted and the deep unity with others that follows, a unity I have only seen on a few blessed occasions, is worth the painful process.