The high five is a young gesture within cultural history (originating between 1960 and 1980), but it speaks to an important human need, which I will get to in a moment. As you well know, sometimes the high five fails: the comrades miss the target and giggle in embarrassment or one person intentionally or unintentionally rejects another person’s invitation for a high-five. However, a satisfying high five is one where both parties simultaneously reach for the congratulatory symbol with much enthusiasm.
This culmination of zealous interaction feeds a specific need within us – unity. This sacred desire to be unified with another human being stems from the moment of creation when God intend Adam and Eve to become one flesh (Genesis 2). This innate need for unity is a thematic river that runs throughout the Bible, and we see it specifically in the early church. Acts 2:42-47 tells us that the first Christians “were together and had all things in common.” Later, Paul wrote to the Corinthians and described unity of the church as being “the Body of Christ;” we all have different roles to play but we must operate as one living organism (1 Corinthians 12).
Thinking back to a failed high five, the dissatisfaction we feel is akin to the detrimental effects of sin. Sometimes, humans attempting to live in unity miss the target and the figurative high five flops, then we abashedly shuffle our feet and try again. Similarly, we turn red-faced when someone “leaves us hanging” because we think we look foolish – we allowed ourselves to become vulnerable and exposed only to be unintentionally rejected because our friend was not paying attention to us. What is worse, occasionally one party deliberately rejects the unity of a high five out of spite or discontentment.
The encouragement I’m building toward is this: if we accidentally miss the unity target simply because we are fallible, we merely have to try again. If we ignore the Church’s attempt at unity because we are too self-absorbed, we must take the focus off ourselves and look to Christ and others. If we blatantly defy Christ’s command to be unified and thus cause dissension among our brethren, we need to repent and seek redemption through the Spirit. Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus are still true today: “With all wisdom and understanding, [God] made known to us the mystery of His will according to his good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1:9-10 NIV).
Ms. Owens is Boise Bible College’s English Professor. She has a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Full Sail University; B.A. in Bible and Humanities from Florida Christian College (now Johnson University Florida). The Lord sent Rebecca Owens to Boise Bible College after a year in Hollywood, where she worked at an entertainment talent management and production company. She also teaches Advanced Screenwriting as an online adjunct professor at Johnson University.