“Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends, Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends. One man likes to push a plough, The other likes to chase a cow, But that’s no reason why they cain’t be friends.”
These catchy song lyrics from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic, “Oklahoma!” still resonate with us today, even as America is seeing an ever-increasing trend of warring factions and groups who cannot seem to get along.
Evidence of this increasing division can be seen in serious matters like racial division, to everyday matters like politics, to less-serious matters like sports teams. Sadly, this noticeable and growing division has found its way into the church today. From Sunday School classes to worship services, we find ourselves continually divided.
Unity is vital for any organization to thrive. Quoting the Bible, Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided cannot stand.” Truly a divided house will fall, and that is partly why we see crumbling among evangelical Christians today. Perhaps Southern Baptists are the chief.
Fortunately, Jesus anticipated this kind of division, which was seen even in the early days of the church. Consider how Jesus prayed for His disciples and also us. He prayed “that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me” (John 17:21).
The supernatural move of God is what most brings people together in Jesus Christ, people who would never otherwise be united. We also see that Christians who are serving together and worshipping together tend to fight less and be more united.
One preacher said, “When the fishermen aren’t fishing, they are fussing.” Perhaps the reason we see so many unhappy divisions today is that we are not busy enough.
Oh sure, Facebook and other social media give us the impression we are busy. But if you stop to consider how much time people spend on screens and behind keyboards today, it’s staggering when compared to how much time people spend praying, in the Word and serving.
The kind of unity the church needs today was on full display at the 2021 Annual Meeting of Oklahoma Baptists. In a powerful worship service on Nov. 15, we saw Oklahoma Baptists from various ethnic and language backgrounds lead in a powerful time of worship. As Oklahoma Baptists came together in unity to unanimously approved Todd Fisher as the new executive director-treasurer, unity was on display. And as we heard reports of missions and ministry work going on across the state and world, unity was shown by our mission.
We, of course, don’t desire unity merely for unity’s sake. We desire it for the glory of God, and, to quote Jesus, “that the world may believe.”
A lot is a stake in this matter of unity and getting along. So, in a day and age that rewards agitators and malcontented people, be a unifier. Be a person of peace, one action, one day at a time.
If the farmer and cowman can be friends here in Oklahoma, surely God’s people can come together in a shared message and on mission. Surely we can, by God’s grace, come together as one.