I remember the day almost vividly. I was a college student, and I was serving as a leader on a retreat for high school students. The speaker at the retreat was a charismatic leader named Brock. As the retreat was wrapping up, he pulled me aside and told me that he sensed God had a plan to use my life for the glory of His name. He encouraged me to walk in humility and holiness, and he sent me on my way. Those words became like a seed in my soul that Jesus watered and grew over the next three years as he confirmed my call to the pastorate.

When the psalmist wrote about the blessing of unity, he used imagery from the anointing of Aaron, the first priest. He wrote,

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes! (Psalm 133:1-2)

There are several reasons why unity is like oil. There’s a smell that oil carries with it and unity gives off a certain aroma. Oil symbolized gladness and joy, which unity certainly brings. However, in the direct context, the oil used on Aaron was used for anointing him for service, it was used to “consecrate” Aaron and set him apart. (Exodus 29) Anointing with oil was the Israelite’s way of signaling to everyone that Aaron had a unique and important role to play in the community. It’s interesting that someone cannot rightly anoint themselves, they must be anointed by someone else, by the community. In the same way, we cannot commission ourselves for service, that must be done by someone else.

When Brock spoke that word over me 23 years ago, it was like oil. I think the psalmist is pointing to the reality that commissioning and consecrating for service is one of the functions and joys of community. It’s one of the most life-giving and beautiful parts of walking with each other. We see each other’s gifts, call them out, and commission them to use their gifts to serve the body. And that is a very good thing – it’s part of the reason we were created.

However, it’s not a part of togetherness that we experience often enough. Would you take some time today and think through the people God has put in your life? How can you affirm them, speak an encouraging word over them, or let them know what you see in them? Those words could carry power in their life just like Brock’s words carried power in mine.

Ryan Paulson
Lead Pastor

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