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Unity is a virtue to strive for in a community according to Madras pastor Darrell Sumner.

"Can we all get along?" Those words were spoken by Rodney King in response to the Los Angeles riots of 1992. Maybe you remember Rodney King speaking those words. Maybe that was before your time, yet you have heard those famous words spoken to bring unity in the midst of division and strife.

I was living near Los Angeles at the time and remember watching the crisis unfold throughout Southern California. I went to the grocery store for a few things and everyone was cautious of each other, even though we lived 30 miles from the riots. With such unrest, it was hard to know who to trust. Most people stayed home with their eyes glued to the television in disbelief that social and racial tensions could come to this.

While the unthinkable was taking place, it was decided to have a press conference and put Rodney King live on all television channels so that he could ask people to stop fighting. Those famous words were delivered in a short speech with a quivering voice as Rodney was on the verge of tears. The plea to stop the violence came in the form of a question that asked all people to "get along" for the sake of the children and older people.

There have been many such crises in history like the Los Angeles riots. The Bible says Jesus was born at the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4), which put him right in the center of racial, religious and political unrest.

God sent his Son into a world that was struggling in so many areas to "get along" with one another. Why did God choose that place and time to send forth his Son? I think the reason is because he knew that mankind desperately needed to be reminded that the most important thing in life is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus knew that he would be betrayed and crucified. Before Jesus was to be handed over, he spent some personal time with the people closest to him. With the limited time that he had left with them, I find it interesting that Jesus chose to pray for his disciples — and all believers — for unity.

John records some of the last words that Jesus spoke before being arrested in John 17, which says, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me."

I have personally spent most of my life holding Christian virtues such as love, grace, mercy and peace in high regard and importance. Yet in these past few years living in Jefferson County, I am discovering that the Christian virtue of unity is just as important as the previously mentioned.

If Jesus spent His last hours with those whom He loved praying for their unity, I must believe that it has importance and significance in our lives. I have watched this community of believers grow in unity one with another through the establishment of the Faith-Based Network and Community Worship Services and other opportunities that bring us together under one umbrella of belief to serve those whom God loves in our community.

It brings me joy when we "all get along" for the sake of the gospel and love God and love others the way we were designed to do. John 13:35 says, "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Darrell Sumner is the pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship, a Foursquare church that meets at the Madras Gospel Mission Community Center in Madras.


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