Faith Matters

Unity feels good: United in Orange

Column by Dan Hettinger
Posted

We are going to be happy together or disappointed together but either way we are united.

From the star on Castle Rock with the Bronco colors to the orange jerseys — a lot of 18's — to the plates and cupcakes at my small group from church last night, we are excited that the home team is in the Super Bowl after a fantastic record-setting year.
Unity feels good. The excitement is contagious. It is possible to meet a complete stranger and strike up a conversation like old friends because there is a passionate common interest.

I travelled to Tampa Bay for the funeral of one of my lifelong best friends. My plane arrived in Tampa shortly after the kickoff of the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots.

What if my host who is picking me up at the airport does not like football or care about the Broncos? They might stop by Wal-Mart on the way or after we arrived want to watch the Kardashians or some ridiculous show like that and I'd miss the game.

I was experiencing the worst case of "Fear of Missing Football." I had a case of "Fear of Missing the Broncos Make it to the Super Bowl." Thankfully it was convenient for them to pick me up after the game at 6:30 p.m. EST. I found a nice restaurant with the game on TV and quickly made eight new friends. We were united with at least two common denominators. We liked football and were rooting for the Broncos so it was easy to talk, laugh and have fun together.

This type of unity feels especially good in a world that is fractured into countless differences and controversies. Debate and the freedom of expression is priceless, but do we have to prove our point every day?

Families, lifestyles, politics, business strategies, economies and plans of medical treatment have so many options within them and strong personalities arguing their opinions that there is little chance of agreement or experiencing the pleasure and potential of unity.

Our 24-hour news cycles on TV and Radio feed an insatiable appetite for controversy. When a sports player "mouths-off" and causes more controversy the microphones are drawn to the emotion like bugs are to a light.

I wish I could direct us to the church as a place where we could find peace and unity. The message is there. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will inherit the earth." "How good and pleasing it is when brothers dwell together in unity." In the earliest days after the time of Christ the church was united. They had everything in common and the world was changed because of how they loved each other.

We can't play football all year long and only one team can be at the top at the end of the season, so we have to look to another source for lasting unity and peace. Since the message is in the Scriptures and there was a time when it worked, I believe the faith community is our greatest hope for meaningful unity.

And I realize that, as an individual within the faith community, I need to take responsibility to be part of the solution, not the problem. The older I get the more I recognize how many times, in my own insecurity, I was competitive to people within the faith community. Instead of reaching a united solution I saw further division that produced emotional pain, broken relationships and a terrible picture of what faith was all about or could produce.

At my friend's memorial service I experienced another dose of the wonderful feeling that comes through unity. The friend who died was one of three of my lifelong best friends. We gathered for a reunion that was emotionally rich and full. We laughed and cried and in it all we recognized the immeasurable worth of friendship that remained strong for over four decades.

The good feeling of unity is one small benefit of unity. I'm going to take responsibility, work and pray that we experience a Godly unity that extends far beyond the scope and duration of the Super Bowl.

Dan Hettinger is author of Welcome to the Big Leagues and founder of the Jakin Group, a ministry of encouragement. You can email him at dan@welcometothebigleagues.org and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@Welcome2theBigs).