The unity of God is a model of unity for us
You may have heard a parable about unity where a broom is used as an illustration. I used to like it before I’ve a heard a better illustration. But first let’s recall that parable, and then we’ll consider what’s wrong with it.
One father wanted to teach his children how to live in unity. So he asked his son to bring a broom. Then he pulled a twig out of the broom and asked his son to break it. The twig snapped at once. Then the father asked to break the whole broom which had many twigs. The son failed to do that, because many twigs put together make the whole broom sturdy. So the father summarized that this is how the unity in the family should look like.
This old parable is well known, and it certainly has a grain of truth. But let us give it a closer look.
QUESTION: In this broom illustration, what is and what isn’t a true parallel to unity in the family or in the church?
This parable is a good reflection of the idea of defending each other, but on the other hand, it also has a week point. What is it? It speaks more to external unity rather than to internal. Twigs in a broom are joined by a string on the outside which holds them together. If we look closer, we’ll see that each twig is on its own, and if it wasn’t for the string, all these twigs would not stay together as they don’t share anything! Unfortunately, many families may resemble such brooms: these people share the same living quarters, but each one of them has their own separate life. For the father, the center of his life is his work, for the mother her home, and for children — computer games. And to be honest, there’s no unity in such a family, though these people are joined by their common housing. Ask the father in such a family about his child’s fears, and he would hardly be able to answer, because there’s almost no communication between them. This external unity can be called mechanical.
But there is a deeper unity which is organic unity. A palm tree can be an illustration to such unity. Externally a palm tree has a shape which looks like a broom, but its branches are joined together not by a string, but by common inner parts. All of them grow out of the same trunk. If one branch withers and dries out, soon it will be replaced by a new one. They are made of the same material and get the same sap from the trunk. The palm tree is a good illustration of deep organic unity. Families and churches that have this organic unity are united by common spiritual values and goals. In such families, family members are no longer each on their own, but they live each other’s lives. Parents get involved in their children’s lives, and that personal interest is mutual. If you ask a member of such a family about the needs of another family member, they will tell you all the details because their communication with each other is deeply developed.
And now you know that the illustration of the broom is good, but the palm tree is even better. But there is a unity which is infinitely deeper that even organic unity. This is precisely the unity of God:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4, NIV)
Father, Son and Holy Spirit are consubstantial with each other, they are of the same essence. Jesus once said,
“I and the Father are one” (John 10:30)
As we study the Bible, we discover a fascinating account of God’s work in redeeming mankind. This work is being accomplished by all three Persons of the Trinity in perfect harmony with each other.
“I am in them, and you are in me. May they be completely one, so that the world may know that you sent me and that you have loved them as you loved me” (John 17:23)
Jesus calls all His disciples to live in unity. Why? Because in this world where everyone is on their own, this unity of love will be a shining testimony to God! God is united within Himself, and we as His children are also called to live in unity with Him and each other.
If your children are still young and do not understand the difference between mechanical and organic unity, you may use an example of the eyes. The eyes act in perfect unity and because of that we are capable of seeing three-dimensional picture. This is called binocular vision. Thanks to the fact that we have two eyes we can distinguish the distance to objects. It is difficult for a person with one eye (monocular vision) to navigate in space. Looking at a distant object, they could think it to be a small object, because with one eye they cannot determine the distance. As a summary, you may highlight that in the Trinity all Persons act together in complete harmony.
You can use your hand as an illustration of unity. Ask your children to hold their thumb to pressed the palm (you can even fix it with a bandage, for example), and then collect some coins spread across the table using the remaining four fingers. This is very difficult, because the thumb has an important part in the process of grabbing. You can ask them to gather matches into the matchbox. As a summary after this illustration share how each Person of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) performs his function.
PRAYER: Worship God meditating on His unity. Thank Him for the example of perfect unity and for the call to unity with Him.