Unity Begins With Me - Scott Kinnaird

John 17:23 "I in them and you in me - so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

There's something about standing next to a pond or lake that makes me want to pick up a rock and throw it in. I like the sound it makes and I like watching the ripples start small and broaden in concentric circles until they disappear. It's easy to see where the energy starts and how it radiates in multiple directions.

As the proximity grows between the rock and waves, the results of the initial energy become more difficult to see. But, no matter how small, I know its effects will eventually reach the shore.

Think about the ripples that emanate from a stone being thrown in the water the next time you hear the phrase or read a bumper sticker that says, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Just like that stone, change comes from me, and the unity Jesus prayed the world would experience begins with me becoming unified.

How do I unify myself? By understanding when Jesus said, "don't worry about tomorrow" (Matthew 6:24) he meant me. And, I can further unify myself by genuinely internalizing the forgiveness of past sins while authentically accepting God's forgiveness with humility and gratefulness. Which is to say, my own unification begins with unifying the expectations in my mind with "who I am today."

Of course we always strive to grow in love and faith, but positively progressing is different than living an anxiety- filled life and never experiencing "contentment in all things." (Philippians 4:11)

To practice personal unity, I must accept myself as God accepts me, just as I am. If my mind is constantly clouded with regret or anger about unmet expectations, I cannot hope to experience personal unity and likewise will be incapable of promoting unity between others and myself.

When I'm personally unified, I'm confident I'm here today, not constantly, mentally somewhere else. I'm present, accounted for and ready to relate to other people from their perspective. I'm able to clearly see other people as God sees them, right here, right now, and enough - just as they are. And not merely where they've been, where they may or may not be going, or lacking in some way, solely determined by my incessant judgment.

The unification Jesus prayed for and that we hope we see in our fragmented world does indeed start with me. It doesn't mean I have to wait and be perfectly unified before I relate to others in a unified fashion or try to make a positive difference in the world. But, it does mean personal unity is where the world's unity starts and is something I can work toward every day.

God, please remind me of your loving, unified presence in this moment and help me remember I am enough just as my family and friends are enough. Help me help others to help the world be more unified. Amen.

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