There is no love where unity is absent. Two people have to be of like mind to focus on furthering their goal of maintaining any manner of relationship.
When either side drifts from the center of that goal, their discord will cause them to suffer until at last there is too wide a chasm to overcome. We see it happen all the time in this day and age, where people take a very blasé approach to love, marriage, and relationships of all kinds.
The minute they don’t feel their needs are met, they bolt. The secret to lasting power, then, is in feeding unity. It means not focusing on I, me, mine, but us, we, ours instead.
Relationships are an investment of time and energy, with the immediate results of love (or respect, or both) in return, and hence unity is formed.
The danger in a relationship is in dominating it, making all the decisions, never thinking about the other person’s opinions or wishes, and generally missing or misinterpreting his or her cues that something is wrong or when there is a need to be filled.
When left unnoticed, the other person will feel resentful and pull away, little by little, until there’s nothing holding the relationship together any longer.
Jesus Brings Unity
Have you ever wondered about the unity between the holy couple who welcomed the birth of their Savior son, Jesus? As we enter into the reason for this season, Christmas gives us an opportunity to reflect on not only what Jesus did for us by coming into the world in which we live, but what He did to unify the relationship between Joseph and Mary.
Don’t miss the fact that upon Mary being with child by the Lord, Joseph had resolved to divorce her quietly (see Matthew 1:20) until an angel spoke to him in a dream (verses 21-22). If she hadn’t become pregnant, they would have been just like any young couple entering into marriage, with a future marked with hard work and hopefully children.
Both of them reacted to the news of Mary’s pregnancy much like what we would see today – but in epic proportions. To become pregnant out of wedlock was not acceptable, and the stigma was that a woman had to be spotless to be a bride – and there was more of a focus on her purity than the husband’s in those times.
So to have Mary suddenly become pregnant was scandalous, and potentially life-threatening to the couple (facing the penalty of being stoned to death if charged with impropriety). Mary was greatly troubled by what the angel Gabriel gave her: “The Lord is with you…behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:28-32).
In fact, while Joseph pondered backing out, Mary made haste and fled the scene to lodge with her cousin Elizabeth who was also blessed with a pregnancy of her own. But unity was coming!
If not for the angels who visited them, Mary and Joseph may not have come together for the sake of the Lord’s plan. They failed to fully grasp it right then, but the prophecy of the Messiah fulfilled before their eyes was sure to have made a difference in how they treated one another.
Theirs was a child who had gained favor with God, whose very existence healed whatever discord might have threatened to break the holy couple apart and prevent them from being a family. Through His miraculous and wondrous birth, they found unity.
Whether it was a pre-arranged marriage or love-match, Joseph and Mary were bound together in matrimony for life. They were also considered respectable citizens of Nazareth. Ultimately, the unity the couple shared was tied in with their faith – and that same faith was what nurtured Jesus until He was ready to begin the ministry that remained part of God’s plan of salvation for everyone.
Unity to the Masses
As an adult, Jesus could have avoided the spotlight and have chosen to remain a humble carpenter, but instead, He chose to unify the people – His people when the appointed time came. All around him were broken, sick, and downtrodden villagers who desperately needed what He had to offer.
Putting His safety and well-being at risk, Jesus spoke to large crowds, healed infirmities, and spent ample amounts of time fasting and praying wherever He went. He considered it more important that people knew they were loved by the Lord, no matter if the society in which He lived was disagreeable.
Isn’t that what we ought to be reminded of in this holy season where the story of Jesus’ birth is proclaimed? It’s still a disagreeable world for us today, filled with hostility and hate at every turn, but Jesus’ birth is still a story we can learn from, be awed by, and celebrate with fellow believers and people who have never heard the Good News before and need to hear why it is reason to rejoice!
Fostering Love and Unity
Perhaps you are wondering how to let love grow in your relationship(s), or you are having a hard time loving difficult people in your life – in which case, loving Jesus is where to start.
Follow His commands. Share the Gospel message. Overlook offenses to focus on glorifying the birth of Jesus. While they are all things to do every day of the year, they mean so much more right now.
Do you need to restore unity in your relationships? Set aside your differences to achieve unity, so that the message of Christmas you share with others will be that much more meaningful in how you tell it, and lead others to receive it with willing hearts.
So even if you can’t love others, it’s ok. First, put your love in Jesus, and He will help grow the love you need for others that you never thought to otherwise be possible.
Peace and goodwill to all this Christmas,