How Good and How Pleasant
by Susan Fiedler
Earlier this month two fellowships joined together to observe Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. God commanded His people to observe this festival in commemoration of their journey through Sinai, living in tents. (See Deut. 16:13-15)
Now we also see the beauty of Yeshua, Jesus, coming to dwell with us. John 1:14—“And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We looked upon His glory,the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (TLV)
Our campsite in the mountains included rustic cabins for those with special needs, but most of the group camped out. Having time to get to know, visit with, worship with and laugh with one another was precious.
Sukkot is one of the three “pilgrimage” festivals. In fact, there are a series of Psalms designed specifically to be sung as the Israelites travelled around the country, climbing up to Jerusalem. One of those “Psalms of Ascent” is Psalm 133.
I love the first verse! “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (KJV)
That’s pretty easy to do on the first afternoon under sunny skies with lots of room for kids to run and play. But it rained three times during our celebration. Even with modern tents and a big gym for the kids to enjoy themselves, it gets a little tough to keep smiling after sleeping in a lumpy, bumpy bed, and having your schedule ruled by a baby crying in one tent and seven-year-olds screaming in fun and games in another—just when you’d gotten comfortable and ready for a real snooze!
But, you know, I didn’t hear a single griping or grumpy word for the whole time we were there. One might think we all got along so perfectly because we all believe the same thing.
Well, yes and no. We believe the same core doctrines. But even on them, there are differences. I’ve joked before that if my husband and I only had people in our congregation that believed exactly what we believe, then we’d each have a congregation of one. But unity is not a matter of being identical. Unity is all about harmony.
I love The Message translation of Romans 15:5-7: “May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!”(MSG)
To be honest, gatherings of believers—even within just one denomination or fellowship—are more likely to produce opposing pockets of people pushing their own pet projects than to resonate with four-part harmony in thoughts and doctrines.
But what does God want for us? Look at what Yeshua—Jesus—prayed for on the night He was taken to be crucified.
John 17:20-23—“ Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; andthat the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”(KJV)
Yeshua was passionate about unity among His followers for a very special reason! As we walk together in harmony people take notice.
Do we want revival? Do we really care about salvation for everyone? Then we must do the tough work of drawing closer to the Father, becoming one with Him, and seeing our brothers through His eyes, that we may have unity.
This is not a minor subject. This is not just some topic of passing interest.
Yeshua didn’t include oneness in His final prayer for the apostles because He needed to fill up space. Do you find yourself truly enjoying the company of other believers? If so, then literally more power to you!
But if you find yourself noticing your brother’s doctrinal errors, or irritating quirks, or not-yet-overcome sins, or, truly—Heaven forbid!—her desire to get praise or honor or attention … well, then you are right along with me. You and I need to pray for that brother or sister. But first, we need to get our own hearts in order.
What does Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) say in I Corinthians 13? Verse 13—“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” (MSG)