The above is a rhetorical question taken from the third chapter of the book of Amos, where the prophet is asking a series of such questions in order to make an important point. The point had to do with the necessity of prophesying evil against Israel because of her horrible sins. It was unavoidable and crucial that God would reveal his intention to punish Israel for her oppressions, just as surely as the sounding of an alarm causes fear in a city. Just as surely as a bird cannot be caught in a snare without bait. Just as surely as the habits of wild animals of the forest reflect the wisdom of God. By asking these rhetorical questions, the answers to which are obvious, the prophet causes his readers to ponder and recognize the certainty of their sins and God’s impending punishment.
Among these questions is this: Can two people walk together unless they have agreed? The word “agreed” can also be translated “made an appointment.” That is, is it possible for two people to meet and proceed together unless they agree to do so? Is it possible for two separate and distinct individuals to be in fellowship unless they both submit to some standard? Is it reasonable to expect two divergent human minds to move harmoniously together through life, unless they are in agreement? The answer is an obvious and resounding no. People do not accidentally move in harmony or in fellowship with one another. It takes planning, respect, submission, and some form of objective control. In short, it takes an agreement.
The important principles contained in this question have been emphasized in sermons and Bible lessons for many years. They are still as vital as ever. We need to surrender our individual wills to the over-arching will of God in order to be in fellowship with him and with one another. As John said, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin,” (1 Jn. 1:7). The converse is obviously true as well: if we do not—each of us—live in accordance with the light of God’s word, we cannot be in fellowship with each other.
Many years ago I first heard about the “Unity in Diversity” Movement. This misguided approach advocated biblical unity among religious people who believed and practiced conflicting doctrines. Unity was thought to be possible upon the notion that we could continue to entertain all manner of conflicting beliefs, and yet still be “one.” The idea was that if we would just ignore, or at least deemphasize controversial matters, we would all be able to get along in harmony and unity. The theory sounded good on the surface. But it overlooked some stubborn realities. People do not keep appointments that are not made. People do not generally walk together for long unless they are in agreement. And in the church, people cannot enjoy meaningful fellowship if they do not humbly submit to the objective standard of God’s word.
We may move together in form. We may go through the same externals. To the onlooking world, it may appear that we are in fellowship, but unless our beliefs are united in Christ, unless we are all “in one accord” such displays are ultimately vain and meaningless.
Our nation is going through a time of great distress, isolation and uncertainty. There are sinister forces doing their best to divide and conquer our land along racial, political and other lines. And, of course, Satan would love to see the church itself divided. The only successful way forward is through meaningful unity. Through humble submission to God’s word. Through the “lowliness of mind” which regards other people as better than ourselves, (Phil. 2:3). “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” No, and it’s time to be reminded how beautiful and rewarding it is to humbly walk together, rather than tearing each other apart.
-By Robert C. Veil, Jr.