Wouldn’t it be great if everyone thought like you? Reasoned like you? Believed like you? There would be no conflict, no debates, no relational difficulty. Everyone would have exactly the same thoughts at exactly the same moment. We would, in other words, be uniform in our thinking.
Clean, simple, and easy:
- Oh, that’s who you’re voting for? Me too!
- Oh, that’s the book that’s most influenced you? Me too!
- Oh, that’s the style of music you prefer in church? Me too!
Uniformity might be easier (and it’s certainly cleaner), but as Christians, God does not call us to uniformity. He calls us to something much deeper – unity:
The Bible never calls us to look exactly the same, function exactly the same, or use our gifts in exactly the same way. In fact, the Body of Christ can only function as it should when that doesn’t happen – we must be different in order to fulfill all the various roles God has for us. But in the midst of that diversity, we are called to come together in unity. That coming together is why unity is actually deeper than uniformity.
Think about it. If everyone was exactly like you, what would it mean for you to come together? Absolutely nothing. You would never have to work at understanding anyone else, accepting anyone else, or thinking like anyone else. Everything would be just the way you want it and think it should be all the time. It’s easier, sure, but it’s far less than what God wants for us.
Unity is deeper than uniformity because unity requires death on the part of those coming together.
Here’s how Paul would say it in Philippians 2:
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4).
He’s moving the church toward unity; urging them to focus on the goal of gospel spread both in us and through us to the world. But that doesn’t naturally happen because the people aren’t uniform; they are different, and so for them to be unified in the midst of their differences it’s going to cost them all a little something.
No one can have music exactly how they want it.
The teaching can’t be perfect for everyone.
Not everyone will like being around everyone else.
That’s why unity requires death. We must – each one of us – die to our preferences over and over again. We must choose something greater than what makes us feel comfortable. We must crucify those desires in us which are not based on gospel growth but instead based on our own opinion. Unlike uniformity, true unity takes death.
The local congregation comes together in unity only if each and every person is willing to count the goal as greater than the cost – to die just a little bit in order to make sure that the Body of Christ is one.
Unity is harder than uniformity because unity require death to preference. But unity is also deeper than uniformity because it is something pursued and fought for rather than naturally achieved.