How speaking the same language contributes to unity

“One love, one heart; let’s get together and feel alright.” Famous lyrics by Bob Marley. I think unity is a desire that most people have – most of us prefer harmony over strife. I think most people understand the value of unity in a team setting, but I also think most people don’t experience unity in their teams. Often personal opinions, sentiments, ambitions or previous experiences hinder a sense of harmony or unity.

An incredible example of what unity can achieve can be found in Genesis 11, where we read about the classic story of the Tower of Babel. The whole world had one language and a common speech. They wanted to build a city with a tower that reached to the heavens. Not for the glory of God, but for their own honour. So they were united amongst each other, but far from the will of God. God’s thoughts can be found in verse 6 and 7:

‘The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”’

Two things amaze me. The first is that even without God, their unity causes nothing to be impossible for them. The second is that the way that God stops the people is by confusing their language. Exactly this disrupts the unity of the people and stops them from reaching their goal. I don’t think we always appreciate how much our language and our way of speaking about and to each other contributes to unity. We might know it does; but still we find it hard to tame our tongue. I wonder what will become possible if we succeed in harmonizing the way we speak.

I think there are many important keys to reach unity within teams and organizations. It would be too simplistic to state that our speech is the only important factor. But I don’t think we can disregard it at all if unity is to be reached.

Psalm 133

How good and pleasant it is

when God’s people live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head,

    running down on the beard,

running down on Aaron’s beard,

    down on the collar of his robe.

It is as if the dew of Hermon

    were falling on Mount Zion.

For there the Lord bestows his blessing,

    even life forevermore.

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