Psalm 133-135; I Corinthians 2
“How good and how pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity:” Psalm 133:1
This week the Olympics have pre-empted many people’s favorite television viewing. I. for one, enjoy looking over the shoulders of world athletes as they perform their various exploits. For me, it’s a bit like having a “cheap ticket to London.” Aside from the pageantry which has accompanied the whole event, several other things have captured my attention.
I have enjoyed the interviews of world class athletes from both the past and the present. The sheer discipline that is involved in training for the Olympic events has been impressive to me. More than once I have heard an athlete being interviewed respond with, “I’ve worked my entire life for this opportunity,” giving testimony as to how training which began in early childhood has come to fruition in early adulthood.
The beauty of a trained human body is an instrument of unity. The price that athletes have made physically to bring themselves to a place of Olympic competition has been visible. The physical coordination necessary to perform on high bars and floor exercises is phenomenal. Perhaps that’s why I thought of the Olympics as I read today’s passage.
The aforementioned text from Psalms speaks of the pleasantness of experiencing unity among brothers and sisters.
Over against the pleasure I’ve had in viewing the Olympics, I have had to be involved in a most unpleasant hospital visit this week. Over the weekend I had learned that my younger brother, Bill, would have his left leg amputated on Monday. Over the next two days, I reminisced about our years as brothers. I remembered how fleet footed Bill was. Though younger, he could outrun me in any race. Most of the fun of my early childhood saw Bill at my side. I drove 230 miles to be with him.
One of the great symbols of unity in Scripture is the physical body.
1 Corinthians 12:12 tells us that “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts and though all its parts are many, they form one body… v. 15 “If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.”
As I considered Bill’s physical plight, I found myself empathizing with what he might be feeling. With a full day to be with him prior to surgery, we talked some about what it would mean to lose a limb. These were moments with visible emotion for both of us. I listened with careful attention as a physical therapist described the loss of balance brought about by such an amputation. In the waiting room I read through available brochures which explained the use of an artificial limb.
The long day ended with a late afternoon surgery. Three hours later when he was wheeled out of the recovery room headed toward intensive care, the gurney stopped so that I could pray with Bill. His groggy question to me was, “John, is it gone?” It was as if there might have been a latent wish for an operating room miracle.
The loss of unity is truly a major loss of balance. The family, the school, the office, the factory, or the church are places of pleasantness or chaos depending on the presence or absence of unity.
My cheap ticket to London has afforded me the privilege of seeing athletic teams that have worked together in unity for many years. The fruit of that unity has resulted in more than gold, silver, and bronze. The joy for many has been simply the joy of participation.