2004-03-08 - Unity vs. Uniformity
Ephesians 4:3 "being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
This text is interesting, because it does not say that we should preserve a unified denomination. It does not say that we should all be Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, or any other denomination. Rather the unity that we are to preserve is the unity of the Spirit. We can observe that the books of the New Testament are written to the church in Rome (Romans 1:7), to all the saints in Philippi (Philippians 1:1), to the church of God which is at Corinth (2 Corinthians 1:1), and so on. Even in the New Testament, we see that unity was not a denominational issue that sought for uniformity, but rather what is in mind here is as the text says, "Unity of the Spirit."
It is not unlike how our bodies are made up. For example, a leg has many parts to it. There are muscles, ligaments, and bones. However, they all form one leg. So while each church has aspects and elements that are individual, they are still all part of the same Spirit. The unity that we have with one another, as followers of Christ, is grounded, not in our all being the same, but in the Spirit.
Thus, while we seek for unity, we do not seek for uniformity. This is even true within the same individual church. As we look around our churches, we see the great variety that exists within the church. On a larger scale, we see this from denomination to denomination. We don't seek uniformity in all the things of God, but rather we seek unity that is grounded in the Spirit. I can remember going to a church in my denomination which practiced a more modern worship than I am accustomed to. I wore a suit; almost everyone else was in shorts and T-shirts. Of the several hundred people there, I was the only one in a tie. Not even the pastor had a tie on. I was greeted by an elder after the service with, "Kind of overdressed, aren't you?" While we might not have had uniformity in attire, that did not mean we could not have unity in the Spirit.
Let us never become so caught up with uniformity in our Christian practice, that we overlook the real need for unity in the Spirit. Scripture calls for the latter. Just as we don't wish for flowers to all be the same color, or cars to all be the same model, so we also don't seek uniformity in the church. Uniformity might seem to be nice, but it is the wrong focus. We ought to emphasize our need to be "diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Soli Deo Gloria,