Unity and Division

“Small wonder that pride gives birth to division, and love to unity.” St. Augustine

As an attorney for an oil company during most of my career, I saw many examples of St. Augustine’s statement play out in the corporate world, particularly in cases of multi-party litigation.

In one such case a west coast oil company had filed a patent on a particular gasoline formula mandated by the state of California.  Since the gasoline formula was required by a state regulation, everyone assumed the formula was in the public domain and could not be patented.  Still, the company who filed the patent brought a patent infringement case against all other refiners selling gasoline in the state, including my company.

So, we had one plaintiff company on one side and a dozen defendant companies on the other.  Sometimes there would be as many as thirty lawyers present at the defendants’ joint counsel meetings.  The pride of supposed expertise of a number of the lawyers made it difficult to establish a unified defense.  As a result, a case characterized by some of the defendants as a “slam dunk,” was lost at both trial and on appeal.

Let me offer another example in contrast to the one above.

When I retired from my company, I went to work for Christians in Commerce, a Christian ministry to the workplace.   After about a year, we brought our executive committee together at a retreat house in northern Virginia to pray about our vision and mission, and the direction the ministry should be taking in the years ahead.

The Executive Committee was made of five people with very diverse business backgrounds, including leadership positions in banking, advertising, insurance, a former international airline pilot and myself.   In spite of our diversity, we all had a love for God, respect for one another and a desire to seek God’s will for the ministry.

We spent the first day primarily in prayer and discussion with the following scripture becoming prominent in our thinking: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)  This gave rise to the belief that God wanted us to expand his kingdom by “being Christ in the workplace.”  We believed he was calling us to encourage and equip Christians to bring the presence of Christ into their workplaces in terms of how work is done.

Our love for God and one another brought a unity of purpose both then and now to our efforts.  After several years this unity has evolved into a vision for Christians in Commerce of “Being Christ in the Workplace,” and a mission, “to encourage and equip Christians to be God’s presence in the workplace by the power of the Holy Spirit, exercising faith, integrity and excellence.”

There is no end to what love of God and love for one another can accomplish! 

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:14)


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