One thing I’ve always enjoyed about exercise is the unity it creates. When we workout alongside anyone, regardless of their fitness experience, race, or gender, as we challenge ourselves together on a run, in the gym, or in a class, sweat becomes our common ground and unites us.
For me, the only other thing that’s created more unity in my life than exercise is Jesus Christ. Just as I’ve sweat with people from varying backgrounds, I’ve worshipped and walked with Jesus alongside brothers and sisters from a diverse mix of cultures. I may not have another thing in common with an individual, but if we share a love of Christ, we’re instantly united.
Unity in Christ extends far beyond common ground or similar interests. In Galatians 3:28, while explaining what actually makes us right with God, the Apostle Paul reminds us that Jesus overcomes every difference we could possibly have, stating, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In a world that so often falls into the “us vs. them” trap, Jesus offers a world completely united in him – everyone on one side.
As fun as it is to sweat shoulder to shoulder with another, that workout eventually comes to an end and we go back to our differing world views and cultural comfort-zones. In fact, all the world’s shared experiences are limited; they connect us on a level or two, but never entirely. However, Jesus is out of this world, quite literally. Colossians 1:17 so famously declares of Jesus, “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” This world offers no recreation, political view, or noble cause that is capable of holding all things together and uniting us all as one – that distinction belongs to Jesus alone.
Although, it would be unwise to discount the small commonalities we share as they can lead and point to bigger and better harmony. Shared loves of fitness, gardening, and our children are not the end goal, but act as entry points to reach the ultimate unity found in Jesus Christ. What connects you to that person across the hall or down the street that’s different from you? Leverage that common ground for building a relationship which can help develop lasting, eternal unity in our Lord Jesus.
Certainly, this type of rich unity defies anything humankind can do alone, and may cause us all to break a little sweat, but “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6)