With One Accord: Encouraging

“Together, we envision an Army encouraged by a common purpose, helping one another to show love and do good fostering a generous and inclusive culture of reconciliation and mutual respect.”

As many folks know, I come from a large family. There are eight of us siblings who lived in spaces around New York City that were sometimes tight; most times, very tight. As you would guess, among the siblings there were varied personalities, from the quiet and sublime to the extroverted and somewhat loud.

No doubt, there was and continues to be eight different personalities and ways to get things done. One thing that was instilled in us from the beginning: you are responsible for your brothers and sisters.

This manifestation came out in different ways. I will admit that early on, when placed in charge, my style was akin to a benign dictatorship. Conversely, “my subjects” balked at the disrespect I showered on them. You can guess that there were many times when my reign was challenged.

There were a few non–negotiables, one being that we were there for our siblings. When they were hurt or suffering, when they were being harassed or bullied (we grew up in tough parts of New York City), we were expected to intercede for each other. When my mother went to be with the Lord in her late thirties, we all did our part, especially for the youngest. Though we were separated, we were still bound by blood – this was the non-negotiable.

Our journeys have all been different and we have each taken different roads, but the one non–negotiable is that we are family. We are there for each other. We may not always agree with each other either, but we are always there.

Now there are so many things that do separate us; we cover the length and breadth of the United States, and only three of us are still Salvationists, but we all love the Lord. Even though our fathers are different, which for several of us is inconsequential, we are bound by blood.

On the surface, these siblings are so varied that you would never imagine that they are related. But if you look deeper, if you watch how we love each other, and how we love our children you can see we are more alike than different.

We live in a society today that seems to accentuate our differences, be they political, religious, ethical or cultural. There seems to be a strong desire to divide us, but we are bound by the Blood—the Blood that will never lose its power!

I often say that the devil does not need to outright defeat us, as he may see victory by dividing us, by causing us to focus on those things that may be important, may be extremely important, but are still not the main thing.

What is the greatest commandment?  “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

If this is the greatest commandment, it would seem to me that this is non–negotiable.  The Lord is not saying do this if you feel like it or if you agree with them or if they hold similar views.

The first commandment is love. When my brother or sister would get on my last nerve, and would make decisions that I thought were stupid or wrong, I still loved them. Be encouraged by the fact that, regardless of what we do, the Lord still loves us unconditionally.

There are times when disagreements will come and tensions will rise, but there is no denying the fact that we have been bought with a great price and the Blood will never lose Its power.

We are family. That is a non–negotiable. The Word says that we have been bought with a great price. I can as much deny the fact that you are my brother or sister as I could deny my siblings.

Though there are many things that divide us, the Blood of Christ unites, and we need to come together in love. This is non-negotiable, and our Father demands it of us.

There is no doubt that this command may, at times, cause discomfort or sacrifice. However, be encouraged that the benefit far outweighs the cost. It so easy to look nowadays and see the differences in your brother or neighbor. Social media seems to give us the tools to divide.

But the Word of God would have you dig deeper. Ephesians 3:18, 19, says, “[that you] may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

God would call us to look deeper than the surface. Look for those things that bring us “Together with One Accord,” those things that would unite and not divide us. I would encourage you to dwell in the areas in which we find common cause in building God’s Kingdom and seeking Him. I would encourage you to respect each other as we journey to the same Lord.

I have a deep respect for all my siblings – yes, we have taken a difficult past and transformed our lives into something that honors God. Do we always get along? No, especially when we all get together, and they remind me that my benign dictatorship may not have been as benign as I thought. But we are bound together! For us, it is the blood of our mother, but more important it is the Blood of our heavenly Father. We are bound by the Blood that never loses it power. It is the Blood that gives us strength from day to day. Be encouraged, my friends.  As Commissioner Israel L. Gaither often says, “I’ve read to the end of the book…. We win).”

By Lt. Colonel Raphael Jackson
Assistant Chief Secretary
Territorial Secretary for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion