Unity or Uniformity?

Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor

I am excited for our church experience this coming weekend! In all of our services we are going to discuss the issue of unity. In Philippians, Paul states that few things bring him greater joy than when the church is united. When a church is united, great things happen! Lives are changed and people take notice! Unity is awesome!

Unity is also rare. I say this because there are so many issues that have the potential to divide us; so many things that we can disagree about. Is Paul suggesting that to be “one” we must all conform to one common thought or opinion? Is he saying we must all share one common understanding of God and agree there is only one expression of worship God appreciates?

In other words, is unity just another way of expressing uniformity? As Christians are we called to uniformity? If so, what exactly is uniformity? The simple definition of uniformity is “the state or quality of being uniform; overall sameness, homogeneity, or regularity.” Sameness would be a good synonym for uniformity. Is this the will of God for us?

To answer this, I want to encourage you to watch the following video. It is very brief and it is both interesting and entertaining. Please take a moment to watch it now.

If you’re not sure what you just watched let me explain it clearly. You just watched an incredibly talented pianist play two different pianos. One of the pianos had 88 keys all tuned to a different note (the way a piano is supposed to be tuned), the other one was a custom built piano which allowed all 88 keys to be tuned to the exact same note, middle C.

On both of them, you can hear the rhythm of the song being played. On only the one with the different notes can you get the richness of the song being played. Really, only one sounded like music. You see, the richness comes from the diversity represented by the different notes. Uniformity is all being the same, unity comes from diversity committed to harmony.

What has caused us to think that a God who is as creative as the God of the Bible would expect us all to be exactly the same??? Think about how many varieties of animals he created. Think of the diversity of plants, of insects, of colors, of smells, etc., etc., etc.!

Now think about people.

Is it any coincidence that we are all born with our very own unique set of fingerprints? Or the very specific differences we all have between the retina’s in our eyes? Does it not blow your mind that NOT EVEN TWO OF US ARE EXACTLY ALIKE? Does it not cause you to marvel that God doesn’t have to “recycle” humans? His creativity has no limit!

So why do we think when it comes to the church, which is simply His “body,” He wants us all to be exactly the same? Why are we so afraid to celebrate and rejoice over the differences between us instead of trying to force conformity?

Here’s the truth: Unity is not uniformity! God is a God of unity, not a God of uniformity!

We read these words in 1st Corinthians 12:

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

In the body of Christ we are all made to be different, but together we work as one! Hands are not made to be feet and ears are not made to see. Eyes do that! Each member of the body has its own function and its own design. When they all come together, and do what they were created to do, the outcome is simply breathtaking!

So… unity takes the differences God has created and blends them together in perfect harmony. Unity makes beautiful music. Make a note of that. Play your part with all your heart!

Unity or Uniformity?

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