Unity – Harmony Within Diversity of Experience and Belief

(This was presented by Phillip at the 2022 Tasmanian conference)

What is “Spirit Unity” and where does it exist?

It’s very easy to have diversity, difference of opinion and divergent viewpoints, because we are human; our personalities are unique and my experience is personal. I may go through a shared event or tribulation, but my experience is mine and mine alone.

Jesus discussed this in Paper 141, section 5.1-4:

Spiritual Unity

One of the most eventful of all the evening conferences at Amathus was the session having to do with the discussion of spiritual unity. James Zebedee had asked, “Master, how shall we learn to see alike and thereby enjoy more harmony among ourselves?”

“…What I require of you, my apostles, is spirit unity — and that you can experience in the joy of your united dedication to the wholehearted doing of the will of my Father in heaven.

“You do not have to see alike or feel alike or even think alike in order spiritually to be alike. “ (141:5.1-4, 1591.6)

Spirit Unity is something which must be strived for and worked at; it will not come automatically. It must be consciously thought out and sorted.

I recently had an encounter at a book promotion that I do on a regular basis. I had set up The Urantia Book stall and next door to me was another religious group offering prayer sessions, blessings, sunscreen, bottled-water and colouring-in pictures for the children. I think their curiosity was pricked when they realised that I was also talking about Jesus, God, and things spiritual. I was approached by a young man and invited to engage in conversation; he asked about the book and what it was all about, so I gave my usual spiel.

I could see his eyes getting wider as his excitement built, then he could no longer contain himself. He cut into my talk and then proceeded to tell me about his church, his beliefs and where I was wrong and how we differed. He asked some rather poignant questions and proceeded to answer them before I even had a chance to reply. Because I was considering this topic of Spirit Unity, I tried to point out our common ground, to which he politely nodded. Love for God, and Jesus, that we are all brothers and sisters, etc. But it was to no avail, I was to be set right. I had to accept that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and unless I did that, I could not have salvation and could not enter the kingdom of heaven.

I tried to point out that unless we could come to some sort of an agreement then we could not have fellowship, and with this type of divergent opinion amongst ourselves and other people, then we could never have peace and harmony. To which he politely nodded, then continued with his tirade. Fortunately, he was polite enough to allow me to engage with visitors to my stall. We agreed to exchange contact details so we could continue the conversation.

So, this got me thinking on my way home after the fair – how to have spirit unity. I needed to seek out what is common between us. Jesus did this very well, particularly during his journeys through the Mediterranean.

He selected five of the leading Stoics, eleven of the Cynics, and sixteen of the mystery-cult leaders and spent much of his spare time for almost six months in intimate association with these religious teachers.

And this was his method of instruction: Never once did he attack their errors or even mention the flaws in their teachings. In each case he would select the truth in what they taught and then proceed so to embellish and illuminate this truth in their minds that in a very short time this enhancement of the truth effectively crowded out the associated error. (132:0.4, 1455.4) emphasis mine

But of course, I could never hope to be as clever or sagacious as Jesus, and if there is no desire for unity then it will always be a one-way affair. So that was my point, if we could have both agreed to have fellowship – to be of friendly relations and that any differing opinions or thoughts be put aside and allow the common idea to come to the forefront – that this could be a foundation to then build upon. But it’s only going to work in an environment of co-operation and with a willingness to have peace and harmony.

Paper 103 explains:

The unity of religious experience among a social or racial group derives from the identical nature of the God fragment indwelling the individual.

…A group of mortals can experience spiritual unity, but they can never attain philosophic uniformity. (103:1.1, 1129.1)

There is great hope for any church that worships the living God, validates the brotherhood of man, and dares to remove all creedal pressure from its members. (103:5.12, 1135.2)

I often say that there are as many religions as there are people on the face of the earth.

Some common ground

  • We both desire to know God, the father or even Jesus.
  • We stumbled when I tried to explain things such as where God is etc.
  • I want life after death, salvation.
  • We faltered when I tried to explain what that life was going to be like. The method used to have life after death can be a stumbling block. So here we will have to agree to differ.

We will each have to do what we each think is right to have life after death, but we both desired it.

I say that I will try to be good, not commit sin, and be a moral person but this may not be enough in his eyes. But he must surely accept that it is better than the alternative.

Paper 131, The World’s Religions presents highlights from the main religions of Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Suduanism (Jainism), Shinto, and Taoism.

What is Spirit or spiritual unity?
I believe it is the desire to find spiritual common ground, belief.

Where does it exist?
I believe if it is to exist it first has to exist within – within the desire and then it can exist within our relationships.

Then we can allow the differing opinions and beliefs to exist, within an atmosphere of co-operation, love, and harmony. We can applaud the diversity and enjoy it, but it takes effort and work. We must be the change that we want to see in the world.

The book best sums it up with these final papers:

Pentecost was the call to spiritual unity among gospel believers. When the spirit descended on the disciples at Jerusalem, the same thing happened in Philadelphia, Alexandria, and at all other places where true believers dwelt. It was literally true that “there was but one heart and soul among the multitude of the believers.” The religion of Jesus is the most powerful unifying influence the world has ever known. (194:3.17, 2064.3)

Christianity is seriously confronted with the doom embodied in one of its own slogans: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The non-Christian world will hardly capitulate to a sect-divided Christendom. The living Jesus is the only hope of a possible unification of Christianity. .. . (195:10, 2084.1)