So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.Philippians 2:1-4
Jesus’ prayer in John 17 that we be one, leaves no doubt that God’s desire for his church is a unity that mirrors that of the Trinity itself. If this is the Father’s plan and purpose, then we can believe that he will bring it about through his own power and grace. But here we find our limitations, since with all things ordained by God, we cannot see the fullness of how he will accomplish his work. Because of our finitude and frailty, we can only ascend each step of unity through humility and trust.
To be humble is to receive Messiah’s gift of his own lowliness. It means to submit ourselves to the Father’s will even where we experience the pain and offense of disunity. Humility is the expression of a heart that knows that our brokenness – the brokenness of pride, rebellion, bitterness, suspicion, and anger – is what keeps us from love and unity. We – Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox – have held on to the belief that our traditions are sufficient expressions of the kingdom of God. We have fallen prey to triumphalism, judgmentalism, and separation based on a scandalous history of division.
But the good grace of the One God is bringing us to the higher vision of laying down our lives for our friends who have been divided from us over centuries of strife. This radical call moves us from the acknowledgment that we need each other to the confession that our brothers and sisters have what we need to live the fullness of discipleship. Only in this way, the way of the cross, will we again hear the world exclaim, “See how they love each other.” The nations are hungry to see that love and we are the highly favored ones blessed to display it.
Dear God, grant us that we may be transformed in the image of your son Jesus Christ. That by your grace we can grow in His humility and spirit of servanthood. Help us seek our brothers and sisters of different traditions with determination, renewed hearts, and open arms, ready to acknowledge their virtues and honor and serve them always. With our respect and appreciation for them, may we advance together on the path of unity. Amen.