Aesop’s Fables tells a story of a lion who would prowl around a field in which four oxen lived. The lion often tried to attack the oxen but, when he did, the oxen would turn their tails to one another so that whichever way the lion approached, he would be met by the horns of one of the oxen. After some time, however, the oxen began quarreling among themselves and each of them went off to a separate part of the pasture alone. The lion then attacked them, one by one, and devoured them all. The moral of this fable is “United we stand, divided we fall.”
We have an adversary, the devil, who like the lion in this fable, prowls around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). This is one of the reasons why unity is so important in the church. When we stand united, loving one another, holding one another up, and caring for one another, like the oxen in the fable, we can better withstand the attacks of our adversary. The devil will have a harder time attacking one of us when, in unity, our brothers and sisters in Christ are there watching our backs.
On the night before He died, Jesus prayed not only for His disciples, but for each of us. He prayed for unity among us as believers, that we would be one just as He and the Father are one (John 17:20). In his first letter to the believers in Corinth, Paul stressed the need for unity in the church. He appealed to them that there would be no divisions among them, that they would be united in mind and judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10). Paul also told the church in Philippi that it would give him joy to know that they were of the same mind and in full accord with each other.
When we are united, we can stand against the devil. But when we allow things like gossip, grievances, disagreements, and generational differences to divide us, we make ourselves and the church vulnerable to his attacks. Unity in the church is a beautiful thing. Psalm 133 says that it is both good and pleasant when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.
United we stand, divided we fall!