The winter Olympics of 2014 are underway and people from all over the world have descended upon Sochi, Russia. I did a little reading on Sochi and learned that it has a climate similar to San Diego, which is ironic as that is where I currently am while writing this. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then to learn that Sochi is frequented by tourists for its mild weather.
As I watched the opening ceremony, I couldn’t help but sense a blanket of unity descend upon the spectators as the evening program unfolded. Audiences from around the world set aside political, religious, or social differences in favor of global, but friendly competition. As each athlete strives for gold, or at least his or her personal best, fans assemble together cloaked in joy and unity.
Hebrews 12:1 says, “…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…”(NRSV). Like an athlete who knows his or her sport thoroughly and is so preoccupied with how to perfect their skill level, those who profess to be Christians ought to also be occupied with Christ–a state of continuous abiding or dwelling to mature in their faith. One who closely dwells with Christ ought to also seek after a spirit of unity in all his or her relationships.
King David says in Psalm 133:1-3: “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes. A spirit of unity is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.” The oil on the head and the dew of Mt. Hermon represent blessings from a life that strives to live in unity with others. Having a spirit of unity is like fragrant oil such as what Mary poured upon Jesus before his death on the cross. Broken open, the oil releases a fragrance. Likewise, when we live in harmonious relationships, our homes are blessed with the sweet fragrance of unity. Additionally, the dew that falls from the sky over Mt. Hermon resembles one’s spirit being refreshed. If we are drinking deeply from God’s Word, our spirits will be rested, revitalized, and restored for the work of maintaining a spirit of unity.
We may never compete in an Olympic event, but like athletes we are required to live disciplined lives and seek to maintain the spirit of unity. “…making every effort to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 3:3 nrsv). Without unity, the unbelieving world may miss the love of Christ that is inside Christ-followers.