Since our focus this semester is Unity, I thought I would share a few thoughts. I recently saw a clip of a men’s Olympic rowing team. Although I had seen similar footage while watching the Olympics over the years, I had never really thought much about it. When the teams are racing, the long narrow boat seems to barely skim through the water with the oars highly synchronized. The oars almost look mechanical as they rise and fall in synchronized fashion. I also realized the irony that the rowers in the race are positioned in the boat with their backs toward the goal. Positioned at the end of the boat facing the rowers is the only person who can see the finish line. This individual does not row but calls out each stroke to help the team stay unified. Without this person, rowers keeping their own rhythms might thrust the boat in different directions and cause it to get off course. I had always thought that rowers each had two oars. But, when I looked closer, the team of eight had half the rowers with right side oars and half with left side oars. This enables the rower to use both hands and throw their whole body and strength into each stroke to achieve maximum speed. The rowers must have ultimate trust that the stroke caller will keep them in sync. If individual rowers take their focus off the stroke caller or turn around in the boat to see the goal marker, it slows the boat down and changes the course.
I think we, as a church, can glean a few principles from this sport. Our leader, Christ Jesus, like the stroke caller, sees the finish line. He also knows our capabilities and our weaknesses. We, as Christians, can have full confidence in Jesus, our shepherd, to guide and unify His church, keeping us in sync with Himself and with each other. If we listen to His words, keep our eyes on Him, and put our whole being into His purposes, we can rely on Him to bring His church into unity and ultimately present her to himself a radiant bride. What an awesome promise.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2