Unity – one for all and all for one

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith YHVH. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts– Isaiah 55:8-9.

I read that there are about 32,000 verses in the Bible, and somewhere around that many Christian denominations- 34,000- nearly one per verse.  Each has its own interpretation of the text, each certain it is quite right. Maybe someone has it completely right, maybe not. The universe is much bigger than we thought when we were young, as science has pulled back the curtain (maybe God helped that happen), and God is even bigger than that, and His thoughts higher than ours like those heavens are higher than this speck of Earth, and the miniscule speck of our brain. It is humbling, and the older I get the more I am humbled. Also, it seems that Einstein has left us enough insight into Time that we can be reasonably uncertain about its real nature, and our ability to capture it in numbers, even “six days”.

Each of those often squabbling and even warring denominations has interpreted symbols printed on paper. The symbols are called letters which, put together, are called words. If those words are not in a language known to the reader, they are only gibberish. Most read the Bible in their own language, being a translation passing from the original Hebrew to Greek to Latin to German to English and others, over thousands of years. Each language has its own variations and changes in meaning of words, and thus varying interpretations, as even the original Hebrew in its Jewish context was open to various interpretations, as we see in the Talmudic discussions, which led to various streams within Judaism itself.

But the fact is that the symbols printed on a page are not the reality, any more than an ‘EXIT’ sign at a theater is the reality, but is only the abstract directive that points to the reality of the exit door. The reality pointed to in the written words is a living Creator of an immensity and power and wisdom far beyond any theological formula concocted by human intelligence.

There occurred the highly unlikely probability that life should arise from inanimate rocks and water in an otherwise possibly lifeless universe, and then develop into humans with the unfathomably complex brain that can consider its cosmic home and its own being. And above all received consciousness, to consider its own origins, and even the origin of consciousness itself. In the extreme vastness of the creation one was gathered from the same stardust and entered the space-time continuum on the perhaps only living planet to announce himself as the envoy and representation of that supreme consciousness in order to provide to the humankind a living word become flesh, understandable in all languages.  His words and deeds occurred within our own human history, in the context of a long development of a real people selected to carry that knowledge of origins- the Jews- and to reflect it among the tribes of humanity in an ongoing divine drama. His mission was to pronounce the name of that source of consciousness in a living example, and to deliver the nature of the one Creator in accessible and living terms. By describing himself as the Son of YHVH, he clarified the essential relationship and potential status of the human being. Furthermore, his mission was to pay the entrance fee due for a humanity gone astray, shut out from the unfathomable mystery of an eternal and ineffable Creator, to re-enter the graces of that majesty in a personal relationship. That payment was bestowed as an undeserved gift to save humankind from its own sad self-destruction- the free choice being ours. It is to this reality that the printed symbols on the page point, not to create a war of conflicting theological interpretations and speculative opinions.

His prayer: That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me (John 17:21). The question remains: given the divisive inclination of the individual human mind, is that unity achievable in reality? If so, what should it look like? I think the only glue that can hold that unity together in reality is unfeigned love, strong enough to negotiate and sail the rough seas of Life.

UNITY: one for all and all for one. DISUNITY: every man for himself.

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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.