Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)
If you have not heard or read Psalm 133:1 at least once in the last year or two, then (a) you’re not following PACE procedures, or (b) you’ve just begun using PACEs and have not yet come up to this one. This memory verse about unity is featured nine times (eight mandatory core subjects from Maths 1003 to English 1109, plus Spanish 6). So, virtually every child will come across it if they do PACEs for more than a year.
It must be considered a significant verse.
What does this verse mean?
First of all, let’s get some of the terms settled, so that we’re “on the same page”. How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
“How good and how pleasant” does not suggest a command, like “Thou shalt dwell together in unity!” Rather, it’s saying that unity is a real blessing, and results in blessing. The rest of the psalm (2 verses) suggests this by comparing unity with anointing oil, refreshing dew on the very mountain where God blessed His people. That’s a real blessing!
“Brethren” means brothers, but this is a general term, like “brotherhood of Man”. It’s not about males, or even siblings. It’s about people who are related. In our time, that would mean Christians of all flavours.
“Dwell together” does not necessarily mean under the same roof. If you search the Bible for how this word is used, it could mean under the same roof (or tent), but could also mean neighbours, in all of its various meanings.
Finally, “unity” means just that. It’s that simple, but sadly that misunderstood.
We Christians take this verse to mean that it is a great blessing for all of us to get along with our fellow Christians. How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
What is unity?
Dictionary.com defines it as: “The state of being one; oneness.”
Jesus told the Jews that he and his Father were “One”. (John 10:30)
He also prayed to his Father “that they all may be one… that they also may be one in us… (v22) that they may be one, even as we are one.”
He was talking about his disciples. Today, that’s us.
So, Jesus is one with the Father, we are one with Jesus and the Father, and (he prayed) we should be one with each other.
Oneness is not sameness
The first thing you will notice is that unity, or being one, does not mean you are the same as the other.
Jesus is not the same as the Father, but is one with the Father.
We are not the same as Jesus, but we are to be one with Jesus.
We are not the same as our neighbour, but are to be one with them.
Earlier on, I used the term, “on the same page”. When two people are on the same page, it means that they are both reading from the same page. In other words, they are not talking about completely different things, leading to confusion or misunderstanding.
Someone I once worked with used to talk about being “on the same tram.” (She was from Victoria.) It was funny when she first said it, but I think now that it probably better describes Christian unity.
You see, if you’re on the same page, you’re reading from the same script. You have the exact same words. When you’re on the same tram, you are sitting in a different seat, perhaps you got on at a different stop, but you’re going in the same direction. There is a common destination.
A child asked her teacher, “What is marriage?”
The teacher replied, “Marriage is where two people live together as one.”
The child thought for a moment, then asked: “Which one?”
Alas, many “partnerships” become take-overs.
Sharing your Destination
We have come across a lot of homeschooling families on our personal journey. Some used this resource; some used that. A few had their children wear their homeschool uniform; most had them in casual attire. Some had their children do exactly 12 PACEs each year per subject; some let their children progress at their own faster or slower rate. They were not the same, but they were united in their determination to educate their children at home.
Baptists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, and other brothers and sisters in Christ are not the same. Of all the variants of Christian beliefs, no more than one can possibly be completely correct, and even one would be remarkable. I am not saying that correct doctrine is unimportant. It is very important. The fact is, not everyone has all of their doctrine correct. The apostle Paul wrote about accepting others who were “weak” (i.e. someone who believed or practised what you know to be wrong), without judging them if they were sincere in their belief. (Romans 14)
Strive for Oneness, not Sameness
It would be interesting if all denominations (and “non-denominations”) were the same, to avoid arguments, and we would call that unity. However, given they are not the same, isn’t it great that we can still have unity as Jesus meant it. Not being the same, but one. Not necessarily on the same page, but on the same tram. Our common destination: The glory of God and the establishment of His kingdom.
Unity is not making everybody worship like Pentecostals or Anglicans or Baptists. It is having all these groups agree that they serve one Father, are saved by one Saviour, Jesus Christ, and are empowered by one Holy Spirit,
Unity is not having our children all clones of Ace or Christi, in their clothing, grooming and what they say. It is having our children learn to honour God and love their fellow humanity, starting with parents, siblings, family and neighbours.
How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! May God richly bless your family as you serve Him in your homeschooling endeavour.
Greg Simon BA; Dip Ed; Cert Teach
Greg has taught and tutored secondary Maths, Science and ICT for over thirty years, and has been a school principal before dedicating his life to working with home-educating families. He was actively involved with the homeschooling of his four children.