Unity in Love
Genuine love considers the welfare of others and always unifies.
In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It was originally titled, “Normalcy.” The speech had been pre-written except for one section. In a state of bliss, he uttered the unscripted section which began with the words, “I have a dream.” Many listeners assumed his vision was about the future of our nation. However, those familiar with King’s oratorical style asserted his dream was about a heavenly kingdom of love.
Today, many would agree that a nation united by love is a utopian ideal. But relationships can be united by love or by self-interest. The author Herman Melville astutely observed, “We cannot live only for ourselves; a thousand fibers connect us with our fellow man.” Genuine love considers the welfare of others and is always a unifying principle. The article “Designed to Love," examined many attributes of love (2021). This article will examine the roles of humility, forgiveness, and self-identification in achieving relational unity.
Humility is essential for developing love. Its significance in relationships is often neglected. God invites us to accept his unfaltering love, but we have to humble or open ourselves to receive it. And when we sacrifice our self-interest for the welfare of another, we display humility. John Wesley, a prominent theologian said, “Humility and patience are the surest proofs of the increase in love.
Accountability and transparency are also evidence of humility in relationships. All long-term relationships have some dysfunctions. However, we display humility when we acknowledge and reject our negative assumptions and behaviors of the other. And when we share our deficiencies with someone, humility is couched in our vulnerability and also in their ability to empathize with us. A scripture in Galatians 6:2 tells us to humbly “Bear one another’s burdens…”
Gratitude is also the posture of humility. We honor God in adversity when we rejoice because we know God is pouring love into our hearts (Romans 5:3-5). Yasmin Mogahed, a Muslim scholar stated, “Know that (sometimes) transformation begins with a fall, so never curse the fall. The ground is where humility lives. Take it. Learn it. Breathe it in. And then come back stronger, humbler, more aware of your need for him.” The scriptures affirm “… for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9). Humility is a friend, not a foe for it opens us up to genuine love that unifies. We should thank God when humility rises within us.
Genuine love in relationships always involves forgiveness. Forgiveness is foremost an act of obedience to God and secondly, it is an act of unmerited grace toward someone. But forgiveness does not mean the offending person(s) will not suffer the consequences of their actions, nor does it mean we must condone their behavior. God loves justice and he affirms, “Vengeance is Mine and recompense....” (Deuteronomy 32:35). God judges with mercy except with those who show no mercy to others (James 2:13). So as believers we know true justice is in the hands of a loving God.
Forgiveness is not only a gift we give to others, but also to ourselves. When we forgive, we release feelings of vengeance and bitterness toward a person or a group. Forgiveness is healing; it unchains us from living in the past. Mahatma Gandhi declared, “The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” When we struggle to love or to forgive, we should reflect on God’s unfaltering and sacrificial love for us. God is always bestowing on us unmerited grace and that should make us love others greatly (Luke 7:47). It is often challenging to love someone who posits themselves as our enemy. Yet, God calls us to that type of unifying love. Dr. Martin Luther King stated, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
Self-Identification with others also establishes unity in love. Self-Identification occurs when we can see ourselves in the other person via their humanity - similar feelings, problems, or experiences; it is empathy. The Son of God not only empathized with us, but he physically became us, and he did it without judgment or condemnation. He self-identified with society’s disenfranchised in Matthew 25:35-40, “For I was hungry, and you gave me meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in: Naked and ye clothed me; I was sick and ye visited me; I was in prison and ye came unto me.” “Verily I say unto you Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” So, dishonoring the humanity of another deeply dishonors God.
Our true identity emerges as we grow closer to him; some individuals in the Bible God gave name changes. So, what does God call you: son, daughter, friend, or servant? As believers, our identity is not in our ethnicity, politics, profession, or socioeconomic level. The scriptures indicate true Christ-followers are being transformed into his image (II Corinthians 3:18).
As our love matures, our empathy for others increases. We begin to love others like Christ. And that is how we love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Did you know some fathers-to-be experience many of their wives’ pregnancy symptoms like nausea, weight gain, or mood swings? The condition is referred to as sympathetic pregnancy or couvade. And some identical twins at times have been known to feel each other's pain. In both examples, they can feel the other’s discomfort or understand their struggle; they are unified in love.
In Conclusion, where there is unity in love there is God. The maturing of our love is a process and God is patient with us. Humility permeates genuine love. Forgiveness is an echo of God’s mercy. And when we identify with others, we become Christlike. True believers will be known for their love!
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2004). New York: American Bible Society.
Shaw, D. (2021, January 13). The Crucible of Love. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://wikiexpert.com/articles/2635/1644/the-crucible-of-love
Shaw, D. (2021, January 21). Designed to Love. Retrieved January 11, 2021, from https://wikiexpert.com/articles/2635/1629/designed-to-love