TODAY’S READING: Psalm 133
Applying this psalm missiologically, an alternate reading of the first verse would be: Behold how good and how pleasant it is when brethren plant churches together in unity. It is noteworthy that someone very familiar with the pain of disunity penned this psalm. David’s father and brothers did not think highly of him; in fact, they thought him a braggart. His king doubted his loyalty and repeatedly tried to kill him. His first wife was given to another man, and she despised him in her heart. David betrayed and divided a friend from his wife. One son tried to take the kingdom from him, while another son raped a relative and then was murdered by a third. David’s nation was divided before, during, and then after his reign. This psalm is a deep longing from one who knew how precious unity was, and how damaging and painful was its lack. A man of blood, David did not often live in the blessedness of true unity. He tasted it with Jonathan, but he still knew how rare and life-giving unity was.
This is indeed the central warning of the psalm. Unity is as rare as the once-in-a-lifetime anointing of the high priest. Unity is as rare as a heavy, Mt. Hermon-like dew falling on the much lower, much more arid Mt. Zion. Unity is so rare, that when it is experienced in truth, it overwhelms—it flows like oil covering Aaron’s beard and it refreshes like an unexpected but longed-for dew.
With this simple foundation from Psalm 133 reminding us that true unity is astoundingly rare and the stated qualifier that the focus of missions is the priority of making disciples and planting churches among unreached peoples, here are some partnership convictions:
- If we are not desperate for partnership with God, we haven’t understood our weakness. Real partnership is based on being desperate for God before we are desperate for God—front-end dependence, not 911 calls.
- If we are not desperate for partnership with others, we have not understood missions. If our missionary activity is only in contexts where we do not acutely feel the need for partnership, then we are under-challenged and not engaged where the battle is fiercest. If we can handle our assignment alone, then our vision is too small and our goals too cowardly. There are bigger giants to fight, giants that we cannot slay solo.
- If we have not understood that we must fight for partnership, we have not understood its power nor the devil’s hatred of it. We must fight through the idea that partnership is about receiving and remember it is in giving that we receive. We must fight through the perceived threat that partnership will harm our longevity and security. We must fight through the inconvenience that partnership demands. We must fight through denominational concerns to face the battlefield joy of unlikely “foxhole companions,” and we must fight through the agonizing pain of betrayal and disappointment, which are realities for all those who fight unnumbered foes in close quarters.
If we do not understand the commanded blessing of partnership, we will miss out on the beauty of what God will do in these last days. We know how it all ends, for the Revelation 5:9 vision is the culmination of partnership: every tribe, tongue, and nation around the throne. How we get there is important to Jesus. Jesus is so delighted when we fight through all the reasons against partnership to plant churches among unreached people (like the Fulani in the Gambia) together in unity, that He commands blessing. Jesus knows how difficult, how rare, how precious real partnership is, so when He sees it amongst us, when He sees the self-denying, others-centered cost we have paid to fight for partnership that He be glorified globally, He rises from His throne and unleashes blessing—He commands life evermore.