Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Power of Unity - Martin Wiles

the power of unity
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 1 Peter 3:8 NLT

I watched as they clung to my pants’ legs.

I never knew what I might run into when hunting in South Carolina’s Lowcountry—or just traipsing through fields exploring new lands. My grandfather had plenty of farmland and woods for my cousin and me to explore. But as young boys living in a time when backyards were large and parents didn’t have to worry as much about our safety—we were more likely to get into trouble ourselves than we were to have someone kidnap us—our grandfather’s land wasn’t enough. We wanted more. So we ambled across his land and onto neighbors’ lands. It didn’t matter. We might not have known the property owner, but they knew we were the grandsons of “Dan’l Martin.” That made walking across their land—and even hunting on it—permissible.

Beggar lice—or begga lice as we called it—was one thing that liked to cling to our clothes. If we came home with it, my grandmother insisted we pull it from our pants before we entered her house. Doing so wasn’t such a big deal, just time consuming. It stuck to clothes as if somebody had superglued it. And when I thought I had gotten it all, I’d see some more. As soon as we were lice-free, we could enter—usually to a good home-cooked meal she had slaved over the oven to cook. Rice, butter beans (with a ton of pot liquor, as she called it), fried chicken, pan gravy, and ears of fresh corn.

But another culprit often attacked my cousin and me as we scampered through the woods and fields. This one wasn’t as friendly as beggar lice. We called it cuka burs. The proper name is cocklebur. We often didn’t know we had accumulated them until we rubbed our hands on our pants for some reason or until our pants suddenly felt tight around the leg area. If we rubbed without looking first, we’d immediately recognize the culprit. Sharp pricks pricked our fingers. Removing them without contracting bleeding fingers proved difficult. Sometimes, we’d wait until we got back to our grandparents’ house, where we’d find a pair of gloves or perhaps use a pair of pliers. Like beggar lice, cockleburs stuck like glue.

Much later in my life, another item was often used in place of glue: Velcro. I didn’t know its origin until years later when I taught grammar to my eighth graders, and we worked through an exercise picking out adjectives in sentences. There, I came across the story of Velcro’s beginnings. The story sparked my interest because it mentioned cockle burrs, which immediately took me back to my childhood.

George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, while hunting in the Jura Mountains in Switzerland in the 1940s, discovered that cockle burrs had decorated his pants and his dog’s fur. He wondered how these tiny things attached so well to him and his feline friend. When he returned, he observed the cocklebur under a microscope and noticed a hook and loop design. With the help of friends in the weaving business, De Mestral duplicated the hook and loop of the cocklebur and began manufacturing what we now know as Velcro. The word comes from the French words for velvet (velour) and hook (crochet).

Peter encouraged first-century believers to be of one mind—to hook and loop. Still good advice. His directive didn’t’ mean then—nor does it now—that they had to agree on everything. But they needed to work together. Join hands, arms, feet, and spirits.

One hook and loop serve little, if any, purpose. Yet, a half- or one-inch square of Velcro shows the power of unity—hooks and loops working together to hold together the strongest of things.

Such is the power of unity when God’s people unite. We have different personalities and share various interpretations about some things in the Bible, but our common ground of belief in Jesus as the way of salvation and our mandate to share his love with others is stronger than the minuscule things separating us. We are many hooks and loops with unmeasured power.

The Coronavirus pandemic demonstrated what can happen when people and industries come together to fight a common unseen enemy. Our spiritual enemy is no different. He roams about like a roaring lion seeking to kill, steal, and destroy. But the power of God’s love, when hooked and looped together among his people, will overcome our enemy’s worse tirades.

Strive for unity with others, and be amazed by what God can do through you.

Father, give me a spirit of unity so my work for you might be effective to the uttermost degree. 

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