A wizened old sage was addressing a group of students gathered around him. In his feeble hands the old man held a bundle of sticks fastened together with a cord. "Now," the frail old man said, "I want each of you to try to break these sticks in two." He handed the bundle to one of the students, a tall, brawny fellow. Grasping the bundle of sticks at each end, the young man strained with all his might, but couldn't snap them. Looking defeated, he handed the bundle to the person on his right. "Ha!" the next fellow laughed. "I know how to do it." He held the sticks at either end and pressed his knee into the middle of the bundle, attempting to break the sticks across his knee. He pressed for all he was worth, but the sticks remained intact. He sheepishly handed the bundle to the next person, a rugged-looking young man with muscular arms and legs. "I know — way." the young man said. "You fellows are just weaklings." Laying the bundle of sticks on the ground, he stepped on one end with his heavy boot and grasped the other end in both hands. Then, his brow furrowed and his teeth clenched, he pulled as hard as he could. Nothing. He tried again, summoning all his strength and this time jerking upward on the sticks. The only result was that the sticks slipped out of his hands and he fell over in frustration. The others laughed. "Well," the defeated challenger mumbled, "there is no way to break these sticks in two." The other young men nodded in agreement. "No?" the elderly teacher asked. "I can do it." The burly young men stared at him in disbelief, Taking the bundle of sticks, the old man, with his frail fingers, untied the knot in the cord. Then, taking each stick one by one in his feeble hands, he broke each in two.
United we stand
"Do you understand the lesson of the bundle of sticks?" asked the old man when he finished. "When we are bound together in unity, no power can harm anyone of us. We remain strong and intact. But separated, we are each easy prey for a destroying force." So it is with us in the Church. Together, we are a strong, solid unit, working powerfully to support Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong in preaching Christ's Gospel to the world in this end time. Each individual member plays an important part in the Church's work. But with out unity the work cannot function. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:16 that the whole Church, "fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Everyone of us is important in doing the Church's work so we need to be like minded and speak the same thing, relying on each other and working together to fulfill the great commission. God's Word places great stress on the theme of unity and oneness: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord. one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:4-6). In these three verses the word one is used seven times, implying the need for perfect oneness in God's Church. Seven is the number of perfection.
What are some ways we can promote unity in God's Church? • Cooperate. As members of the same team, we all need to work together in harmony to achieve the goal. Whether we are acting on an instruction in one of Mr. Armstrong's letters or following the directions of a parking lot attendant in our congregations, we should do so in a willing, humble attitude. • Have a constructive attitude. Many a worthwhile project has been ruined by pessimism alone. Satan is the source of negativity, but Philippians 4:8 shows us what we as Christians should keep our minds on: the positive, the uplifting, the helpful, the encouraging. Avoid gossip and tale bearing — no other force is more destructive in God's Church. • Welcome responsibility. Look for opportunities to help "and serve individual brethren and the Church as a whole. Don't leave things for someone else to do. Look for ways to get involved. • Show enthusiasm. As the old saying goes, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." And enthusiasm is infectious. If you are excited and positive about a particular project or job, those are and you will see your attitude and follow suit. • Don't worry who gets the credit as long as the job gets done. A team — like the Church — can accomplish much as long as no one becomes selfish. Our purpose as Christians should not be personal aggrandizement, but the over all good of the Body of Christ. • Keep learning and growing. Correct past mistakes in your personal behavior. Think of and apply new methods of promoting togetherness and strong bonds of unity among brethren and in your family. • Fellowship with the brethren. This is one of the greatest keys to strengthening unity in the Church. Get to know every member in your congregation. The more involved you become with your brethren, the more genuine, godly love you will develop for each other. This promotes unity among God's begotten children. Satan would like to destroy God's people. The only way he can do this is to divide and attack us individually. Alone, none of us is a match for Satan's diabolical devices, but if we stick together, supporting, helping, praying for and encouraging each other especially staying in unity with God and Jesus Christ in every way — nothing can make us fall. Remember Psalm 133:1, which was Mr. Armstrong's mother's favorite scripture: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"