Saturday, March 5, 2011

Unity and Uniformity.

In Ephesians 4:3 it says "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Unity is something we're supposed to keep. It's so easy for uniformity to replace the unity God intended all along.  Things that outwardly may look "the same" often in actuality are not the same at all.  Some folks appear to have unity because they fall in line behind some sort of authority figure.  Or political leader.  Those people appear to have unity but they don't, it's fake unity, only lasting or present due to the power structure that exists.  Take away the power structure, or leader, and the unity all falls to pieces. 

Christ, while talking about the Spirit and those born of it says (John 3:8) "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Unity with that kind of Spirit to me is not uniformity. It's too spontaneous, too individual, too uncontrollable and un-cookie cutter. Unity of the Spirit seems to me, is having God's Spirit abide with someone. You can't cookie cut that. Sometimes people even conclude lack of conformity equates to lack of worthiness.  This is wrong.  It's that kind of thinking that can result in religious people persecuting Christ, and his followers.

Scriptures talk about Zion, how it's made up of those of one heart and one mind. This is real unity, not fake appearance.  Scriptures about Zion talk about having hearts knit together in unity. To me it speaks of being united, having a mutual purpose and love, a shared level of character and growth. You can't force unity.  When it's forced it just becomes uniformity and unity is gone. I suppose there is an element of peace in uniformity, but it's not the peace of unity.  One reduces freedom, the other expands it. 

To me unity does not mean that everyone has to have the same opinion, believe exactly the same, see things exactly the same, and act the same, or do the same things.  That sounds like uniformity.  In a religious context just like the development of an orthodoxy and a creed.  But if we all use the wrong vocabulary word, and call what we're doing unity when it's not.... that creates a problem.  It blinds and deceives. 

I don't know that our day is under any less danger of adopting creeds and requiring uniformity than at any point in the past. The creeds of the past are sometimes looked down upon for their errors, but meanwhile we may be following the same road that got them there.  The primitive church of Christ fell away, and creeds or established rules, perspectives, opinions, and belief systems became what one was required to adopt as true.  They were required to conform.

There is a tendency to want everyone to believe a set of standards and creeds so there won't be any divisions and won't be any weirdo's and won't be any cause for looking outside the box, and everyone can feel nice and safe that everyone believes just the same as you.  Again, unity is headed another direction.  Unity will cause what's most important to bond people.  Uniformity causes "us" and "them" thinking.

I've heard a lot of examples of a particular kind of unity that is very fascinating to me. Like when a skilled musician plays his or her instrument. A violinist, or a maybe a singer, or a surgeon operating. There is unity between instrument and person. It resonates with something intriguing.  A Samurai who can draw his sword and cut a bb shot from a gun. There is flowing smoothness and grace when these types of things happen. A skier going down a mountain. A figure skater gliding, spinning or jumping with finesse and grace. When a tennis player's racket seems like an extension of his/her arm. There is unity. Rules are replaced by the flow and unity of the action. A bunch of people just imitating the same exact rules or believing the same beliefs that make them look alike and act alike just isn't the same as unity.

A friend David had this on his blog which I loved: "We need to forget conforming to an imaginary pattern, and allow the unique gifts each of us have been given to mature. Becoming "one" does not require us to become "the same". there is a great difference between the "oneness" God asks us to acquire, on the one hand, and uniformity on the other.

Find out what God want YOU to be. Be that. It is "one of a kind". It will make you free."

1 comment:

  1. Not sure where my comment went but i'll say it again. Tay, this was pivotal for me at this point in my life. There is a large amount of discord running through the Curtis (extended) family and they have used me as the "whipping boy". I believe it is because of the lack of uniformity we bring to the family. Your words; "There is a tendency to want everyone to believe a set of standards and creeds so there won't be any divisions and won't be any weirdo's and won't be any cause for looking outside the box, and everyone can feel nice and safe that everyone believes just the same as you. You don't need to be afraid of anyone else's beliefs because they pretty much should be the same as yours". These words were so important for me to find some kind of understanding and peace with all of their craziness. I hope to find some love that's genuine when we get together with them next time, it may just take time. For now, i've realized that unity isn't about focusing on our differences but rather the things that DO unite us, our commonalities. I hope there are some, right now I don't want to see any but i'm sure time will change all that. I love you Tay and your words were very "hitting home" to me. Thank you!