“All for one and one for all!” Who made that declaration famous? The Three Musketeers, of course. The 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas of a young man who on his journey finds three loyal friends is such an appealing tale that it has been shown in twenty-four films throughout the years, as well as seven animated versions. We are drawn to the solidarity formed in their friendship. Four men who found common ground in their core belief system. Four men who banded together to fight for truth and justice. Four men so bonded by love and loyalty they would give their lives for each other.
Yet these were four very different men. One was emotionally reserved and served as a father figure. One was deeply religious. One was fond of fashionable clothing and described as a “dandy”. One was the newcomer to the group, who in many ways became their leader. They had different personalities, different opinions on many things, and different heritage. How is it they came to stand together so strongly? They were able to see beyond their individual differences and come together for a much greater cause. A cause worth standing together for.
If you’ve never read or seen this story, I highly recommend it!
But did you know that the statement “all for one and one for all” did not originate with this story? Neither did I until I looked a little deeper!
This phrase was used when the church was fighting. In 1618 there were problems between the Catholic church and the Protestant churches in Bohemia. There were leaders in the Catholic church that had pursued the dissolution of the Protestant assembly and the cessation of the building of new churches in the area. In a written response that was read at a meeting of the leaders, the Protestants declared:
As they also absolutely intended to proceed with the execution against us, we came to a unanimous agreement among ourselves that, regardless of any loss of life and limb, honour and property, we would stand firm, with all for one and one for all…
Now, we all know that the church has some pretty difficult history. Not only have the followers of Christ had to deal with the attacks of unbelievers, but very often the attacks have been from within. We now live in a time when multitudes of people are reading multitudes of translations in a multitude of languages – all with a desire to know what it really means. This seeking of the truth can seem overwhelming and impossible!
All for One.
Who are the “all”? Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth, died, and rose again for the forgiveness of sin.
Who are we for? Jesus. (The word “for” indicates purpose.)
So, the question is: Can we as believers see past our individual differences to see Jesus as our common purpose?
One for all.
Who is the “One”? Jesus.
Who is He for? ALL. His life and death on earth were for the purpose of reconciling man with God.
“Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of the Spirit in the binding power of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as there is also one hope to the calling you received – There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, Who is above all, pervading all and living in us all. Yet grace – God’s unmerited favor – was given to each of us individually in proportion to the measure of Christ’s rich and bounteous gift.” Ephesians 4:3-7
The result of that meeting in Bohemia? The instigators were thrown from a third story window!!
So what do we do when those difficult discussions about interpretation arise between believers in Jesus Christ? (Please be advised: tossing someone out the window is NOT an option!)
We give grace and agree to disagree. Our core belief remains the same: Jesus, the risen Son of God, as our Lord and Savior. That is the foundation of the Christian church that He calls His body. There is only one body.
Give unmerited favor to those who are directly opposed to our interpretations of scripture? Yes. Grace keeps the peace. Peace keeps the door open for communication, cooperation, and more importantly, prayer to understand one another.
…one God and Father of us all, Who is above all, pervading and living in us all…
We are not going to understand it all until we are in heaven. Until then, let’s stand together in this bounteous gift of grace so that others can find Him in our midst.