I recently heard that by your mid 20’s you’ve made up your mind what you believe, and you spend the rest of your life looking for proof that you’re right. We oppose those who oppose what we support, and we value the opinions of those who agree with us. Our ignorance can get us in trouble; our arrogance can separate us from God and from each other.

Muslims and Jews, Christians and Atheists, Democrats and Republicans, haves and have nots, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, Main Street and Wall Street… In order to win we usually insist that someone has to lose.

As Jesus spent his last few private moments on earth, he prayed that those who love him would be unified. I can’t imagine that he’s anything other than disappointed with how we’re doing on that one.

John 17:20-23 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Jesus’ prayer is not about unbelievers; it concerns all those who will believe in him. God will not tolerate sin. His children cannot pick and choose which of his laws they like or which ones they’ll ignore. And God is very clear; those who love him must love each other. How Christians treat unbelievers absolutely matters to God…how Christians treat each other may matter even more.

How can we love others with different priorities and perspectives without forsaking our core beliefs? How can we be tolerant of those with whom we disagree without condoning their choices? Why do we consistently choose to focus on what separates us, rather than finding a common purpose? What if we were more interested in progress or unity than we are in personal victory?

I have a big problem with anyone who treats either of my boys unfairly, even when it’s the other one. The topic of their squabble matters far less to me than that they find common ground and find a way to move past the problem and love each other as brothers. The unity of our family depends on it. When they fight with each other, it brings me pain. How much more it must grieve God to watch his children fight with each other.

Unity is not about everyone always agreeing with each other; it is about working together toward a common purpose. God intentionally gives each of us different passions and different gifts so that we can combine them into the perfect whole that becomes the family of God. May we honor him with how we use our gifts to serve all those he loves, even, and especially, the ones with whom we disagree.