Thought For Today: Power In Unity
Thought For Today, by Revd Nicky Gumbel (abridged)
The Power of Unity: In Buchenwald concentration camp, 56,000 people were put to death by a totalitarian regime that saw the Christian faith as a threat to its ideology. One block of cells in the camp was reserved for prisoners who were deemed especially dangerous or notable. Paul Schneider, a Lutheran pastor who was called ‘the preacher of Buchenwald’, was placed in this special block because even from the small window in his cell he loudly proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ – in defiance of the orders of the Gestapo guards.
Otto Neururer, a Catholic priest whose work on behalf of the Jews and other so called ‘undesirables’ had made him a threat to the Nazi warlords, was also put in this block. He too ministered in Jesus’ name to his fellow inmates in the concentration camp until he was crucified upside down.
In unity, these two men, one a Catholic and the other a Protestant, bore witness together to their common Lord – Jesus Christ. Unity is so powerful.
In John Chapter 17 Jesus prayed for complete unity so that the world may believe (v.23) and know unity with God (vv.21,24). One of the greatest barriers to belief is disunity in the church. In politics, the moment a political party becomes disunited, it loses popularity. It happens in the secular world and even more so in the church.
When churches fight each other, people lose interest. Conversely, when churches do unite it is so attractive. It is the source of joy. The followers of Jesus are not supposed to be miserable. Jesus prays ‘that they may have the full measure of my joy within them’ (v.13). Joy comes from unity. Disunity is a joy-stealer. Unity is powerful.