Unity and Diversity

There's a phrase I picked up in college from one of my favorite professors: Unity does not equal uniformity. ˆ

We're not all the same. We don't all agree. Our vision and perspectives don't all align. We are diverse. We are many. Yet we are also one. 

I have yet to meet a family that is made up of people with all the same personalities, gifts, passions.

In the New Testament, Paul calls out the division of one community and reminds them that they are one body, many members, each with a different function. 

In the natural order, ecosystems are built and thrive due to an interconnected web of diverse organisms, from the microscopic to the massive.

I understand, though, that in human relationships, diversity often does not come without friction.

We're all trying to make sense of the world in the best ways we know how, and when our perspectives run into a different idea, a different story, a different interpretation, or a person that we find...strange; let's just say things aren't always easy. If I look closely, though, I'm usually able to find some common thread between me and even the person who is my polar opposite, even if it is just that we're both human, we both feel the same things and want/need some of the same things.

For churches and faith communities, I certainly hope they will have a sense of identity. A common mission, vision, a binding story. Shared rituals. These are all unifying things. Yet I hope that increasing numbers of faith communities will be able to be built up not only in unity around core tenets and actions, but around the lively conversations that ensue as we wrestle with our ideas of God and with the traditions we've received.

My prayer is that unity, a deep realization and practice of oneness, would more fully incorporate and invite diversity. We are one, we are many.

What does unity mean to you?
Benjamin FaderComment