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Uniformity is not the same thing as unity
PARSON TO PERSON
By Jeff McPheron - Trenton and Wesley Chapel United Methodist Churches
Jul. 29, 2021 3:58 pm
Again and again, Christ Jesus invited his followers to stay together — or maybe it was a challenge to stay together, in anticipation of the difficulties that he expected they would face. Unity of purpose brings strength. Uniting with a belief or a goal in mind is aligning energies in one direction to express that belief or to pursue that goal.
One of the difficulties humans face within the frame of unity is the natural differences in perspective among those who would be united. When we see a different approach in another person, we presume that the person is not fully with the program, or that the person does not fully understand the objective.
While this is true at times, it is perhaps more likely that we are confusing unity with uniformity. Uniformity is simple sameness in thought or approach. Uniformity is not required for unity, and at times it is a detriment and a weakness. Uniformity discourages creativity or replaces the variety of human responses with a stated response that is deemed acceptable.
Uniformity is not the same thing as unity. Uniformity is about power and control in fewer hands and minds. It discounts the ability of the individual to receive and exercise the gifts of the Spirit.
These gifts are given to offer unique expressions of faith. They are intentionally diverse. Uniformity is sometimes driven by fear of loss of power, by fear of an unplanned outcome. It wants the group to arrive at a certain decision. It also forgets that there is a higher power who will work among those who are willing to work for good, even in unexpected ways.
The power in unity is similar to recognizing that two heads are better than one, that various perspectives deepen understanding rather than weaken it. Wisdom recognizes that no one approach works with every person in every situation.
Inspired creativity is a valuable gift. Instead of diversity weakening the group, diversity is a strength and an asset.
As disciples, we are pretty good at practicing and identifying uniformity. We can spot differences quickly and make judgments about them, especially when they are not our idea, when they are different from our approach. An example of this is that we know there is to be one Church, with one Lord and one Savior. That’s unity.
What is not unity is the dozens of denominations with their own approaches toward that Lord. What is difficult is the ways we continue to remain out of unity by insisting that the only way is most closely connected with our individual uniformity.
Lord, bring us a little closer to one! May our diversity strengthen our unity in spreading the good news of love and life. Come again, Holy Spirit!
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