Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin had every reason as teammates to be friends, but they were not. Incognito harassed and bullied Martin. He called him a racial slur in a voicemail played by every media outlet in the country. He threatened to kill him and his family. Incognito claimed all of this was just locker room talk. It is the way the guys talk to one another in the NFL.
Apparently, Martin didn’t get the memo. Jonathan Martin left his lucrative job citing emotional issues and fearing for his life. Though we don’t know all the details, it appears as if Martin has some culpability, as well. He was far too passive in dealing with Incognito’s threatening behavior. As a teammate, it appears, he should have expressed how troubling Incognito’s threats were to him. These two men had many more reasons to get along than to have a toxic relationship. Consider all the reasons they had to be friends.
They were both professional football players.
Both on the same team, the Miami Dolphins
Both had the same head coach and position coach
Both were offensive linemen.
Both played on the same side of the line.
Both were starters.
Both wanted to win.
Yet somewhere along the way one or both of them forgot they played for the same team and began to treat the other like an opposing team member! They forgot the enemy was in another city. They forgot enemy is on another team.
Similarly, we have many more reasons to honor one another as Christ followers than to dishonor one another.
We have the same owner!
The same Father cheering us on from the press box.
The same Savior who scouted us and forgave us.
The same Spirit within.
The same playbook.
The same purpose.
We are going to same place when life is over.
In Ephesians Paul urges us as believers to remember that we are on the same team. We are urged to get along:
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3
Why should believers diligently maintain their unity (as described in 4:3)? Christians belong to one body, through one Holy Spirit. In the Roman-Greco world there were many gods to worship and sects to join. For Christians, however, there is only one body, unified by one Spirit. Christianity is not a club to join, instead, true Christianity is a spiritual relationship with Christ as well as with other believers. Through the Spirit, all believers are united in one universal body.
What do the sounds of Gregorian chants echoing in a European monastery chapel, the shouts of “Sí, Señor Jesucristo!” in a house church in Mexico, the rich, layered harmonies of gospel music from an African chorus, reverent hymns with a pipe organ in a stained-glass church all have in common? “There is one body and one Spirit, . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.” We, the body of Christ, come in all the colors of the rainbow and with as many different ways to worship him. Rather than let those things act as barriers between us, why not celebrate our diversity, our different-ness? We are different, but we are one body in Christ. Let be connected in unity!