Several months ago, I did a message on unity. My point was, oneness is God’s dream for us. Jesus certainly prayed for unity, praying that we would be one with God and with one another (John 17).
But does oneness mean sameness? I don’t think so. I believe God values both unity and diversity. The Trinity is an example of both—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one and they are diverse. Look at creation—God obviously loves diversity. Earth is only a tiny speck in God’s creation, and yet, this planet alone is filled with such tremendous diversity—topography, cultures, languages, attitudes, personalities, all the way down to fingerprints and DNA.
The challenge, of course, is in the interaction. There have always been battles related to ideology, racism, classism, sexism, etc. Add theology to the mix, and you have a recipe for conflict in the Church. Christ-followers have always struggled to get along and work well together. Rather than valuing our differences, many Christ-followers reject other followers because they believe, think, act, and sometimes look, different.
Christ-followers who believe that unity means sameness tend to be more narrow in their thinking, while Christ-followers who value diversity tend to be more open-minded. Like most things, of course, the extremes are bad. We’ve got to find the balance so that we are not too narrow (rejecting everything) or too open-minded (accepting everything).
But I believe it’s a balance we must try to find. The only way to truly be the body of Christ is to value both unity and diversity.