…by Chuck Graham
About 700 years ago Polynesians, desperate to find a new home, canoed more than 2000 miles to a land they called Aotearoa.1 There they thrived and developed a unique culture. Europeans arrived a 1000 years later. The visit did not go well and they quickly left.
In 127 years others returned, and this time with an aggressive colonial attitude. Land was taken and wars broke out, even among the tribes. In 1840 a peace treaty2 was signed, returning some of the land and giving the British Empire sovereignty over Aotearoa.
With that kind of history, division and hatred was to be expected. But in 1947 this British colony became an independent nation and all those in Aotearoa were now citizens together. They discovered they loved this new country. They found new respect for each other.
And they began to think in a new way. While their family trees were quite different, they saw themselves as standing together, no longer separated as European or native, British or Maori. But united as New Zealanders and…one people.
We must be brought to complete unity by God’s hand.
That’s how Jesus looks at us. He said there would be one flock and one shepherd.3 He prayed to our heavenly Father, May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me. 4
Such unity does not come by our own power. God once told Ezekiel to take two branches, marking each as one half of the divided house of Israel. Then he had to tell his people, “God has said, ‘I will make these a single branch, they will become one in my hand!'” 5
Being one is not about forgetting history or ignoring differences, but being complete and whole. Ezekiel wrote of one nation. Jesus spoke of one flock. Paul described one body. And they all meant the same thing…one people.
We cannot follow God while refusing to be one people.
This year marks the 55th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.6 Many will miss something important. In his call for justice, Dr. King spoke of our nation, our Republic, every American, all men, all God’s children. He was not addressing individuals, but…one people.
His dream was that one day ALL would sit together in brotherhood, see each other as brothers and sisters, stand together, and care for each other. To feel good about themselves? No! “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
Remember Jesus’ prayer? Ultimately, it’s about coming together in a way that points directly to God. Not only for Dr. King and his mission, but for each of us and the life to which God has called us…a life of encouraging and loving one another.
We will do this, not forgetting our history but in defiance of it…not ignoring our differences but in spite of them. We will strive for the day when our character is more important than what we look like or where we come from. When we truly love God and become…one people.
Take care & be God’s,
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa , an international ministry devoted to sharing God’s encouragement and teaching others how to “encourage one another as long as it is called Today!” He is also an author, speaker, teacher, and encourager. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. You can learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org .
1. Aotearoa in the Maori language means “land of the long white cloud’.
2. Treaty of Waitangi, first signed February 6, 1840.
3. See John 10:16 NIV.
4. John 17:23b NIV.
5. See Ezekiel 37:19 NIV
6. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered was is commonly referred to as the “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963 at the March on Washington, in front of the Lincoln Memorial.