Uniformity is not unity
There is a shocking truth that seems to be taking considerable time to seep through the body of Christ and permeate our churches. Here we go, we don't all have to look the same. Massive, earth shattering, perspective realigning realization, right? For some of us, this is a self-evidence fact. For many others however, it would appear that this Biblically established truth has somehow evaded our regenerated consciousnesses. I'll never forget a nugget of wisdom my mother shared with me years ago. She said to me "God enjoys the beauty of variety. It is because of this fact that He created many types of flowers. They have different fragrances, colours, shades and shapes because if they were all ONE thing, they would fail to capture the essential nature of who God is as creator and limit His expressiveness."
This conversation was raised in the original context of discussing church unity. We spoke about many things that day, but chief among them was the firmly held misconception amongst many brethren of the household of faith that God intended for us to be identical to each other. No friends, God intended for us to be identical to Him, and He is many things. What makes this truth even more relevant today is the fact that uniformity is not unity. We can all resemble and not be one in spirit. We can speak, dress, look and sound the same but be truly dissimilar in character and vision. So, what are we really hoping to accomplish by enforcing an appearance-based status quo on our brothers and sisters?
Diversity is not Division
While writing this, I reflect on the many wars, the lives lost, churches split, unnecessary debates over debatable topics and areas of belief that are not even essential to the core tenets and close-fisted doctrines of the Christian faith. You would be alarmed to know how much of our time as believers is consumed with speaking on the speculative. If God wanted us to all think the same, He would have never wired us with free will and coded us to have opinions.
In Galatians chapter 2 verses 11-14, we observe a fascinating scenario where Paul and Peter had a rather strong disagreement over Peter's approach to eating with the gentiles. According to the text, Paul was inferring that Peter was being a hypocrite by eating with the gentiles (non-Jews) when certain folks were not around, yet when said folks were present, Peter withdrew from doing so. It bothered Paul and he confronted Peter about the matter. While the text does not provide any insights regarding how Peter responded to this accusation, or his defence toward it. If any was available, it does seem clear that the two held different views. There is also no record of Paul and Peter hating each other or being divided in spirit over the disagreement. Why then, if our spiritual forefathers could set aside differences over fairly serious matters for the sake of Christ's name and the glory of His kingdom, can't we set aside trivial foibles for the cause of true kingdom unity and love in a spirit of brotherhood?
In Acts chapter 15 verses 36-41, Paul and Barnabas had a sharp disagreement and decided to operate independently in their respective ministry pursuits-still in love. Diversity is not division. We are allowed to express the beauty of Christ in all His unique colours without betraying core doctrines of faith and salvation. Furthermore, we are expected to celebrate the variety of how God made us as unique individuals who dress, smell, walk, talk, sound, eat, and function differently.
Let's focus on what really matters
If we first of all learn the core doctrines of our faith and understand what really matters to God's heart, we would be off to an exceptional start to ending the unnecessary divisiveness and rancour. Secondly, if we understood God's vastness and creative qualities, we would see our brethren as masterpieces of His making, creative canvasses upon which He has painted (and continues to paint) His image! Thirdly and perhaps finally, we ought to centre our attention on the necessary and reduce our time spent on the things that create confusion such as debatable modes of attire and appearance, styles of worship (loud, soft, fast, slow, genre debates) and other things that scripture are silent on and the Spirit of God has not expended energy prohibiting or mandating. Ultimately, the fruit of our lives indicate where our heart's allegiance lies. The spirit of God inside us possesses the capability to test the spirits and to discern fruit for authenticity. Let us allow him to do His job in us and through us, and we will never go wrong if we operate from the position of love and a sincere desire to see ALL conform to the image of Christ and see His face in glory.
Victor Brown is a Christian Creative and singer-songwriter from Kingston Jamaica. He enjoys reading and writing as well as creating music. He is currently a worship leader and creative director in Michigan USA.