Lesson 1 -- second quarter 2004
March 7, 2004
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications
Unity or uniformity?
"He is all thumbs!" What if that were literally true? Such a person would be incapable of anything except lying around being a thumb -- unable to see, eat, think, walk, and so forth. This individual would be an organ, not a body -- which means he wouldn't really be a person or an individual! He would be uniform, not united. A body is a combination of different parts forming a single entity. Unity is deliberately synchronized diversity. So a person who is all thumb is a useless organ, albeit uniform in appearance, perspective, ability, and function. In a natural sense, we recognize the need for and desirability of diversity. Can we accept that same premise in our view of the Church and our life in it?
Until we understand the differences between unity and uniformity, we will be unable to appreciate differences in the Body. Unity implies variation; uniformity implies sameness. Unity suggests complex coordination; uniformity suggests lock step. Unity is harmony; uniformity is one steady note. Unity presupposes opposing functions; uniformity presupposes like functions. Unity has healthy tension; uniformity has sickly slackness.
Had God wanted uniformity in my body, He could have made me all thumbs. Since He desired unity in me, He made me thumbs, fingers, eyes, ears, liver, nose, feet, ribs, kidneys, ligaments, cerebellum, appendix, femurs, and you'll have to consult a medical encyclopedia for further details! Had God wanted uniformity in this Church, He could have made us all clones of James Roth. Since He desires unity in His Body, He made Russell, Sam, Enos, Michayla, Jane, Peter, Andrew, Levi, Irene, Ruby, Dora, and a few score more.
In a natural sense, diversity makes unity both necessary and possible. Each member has its unique contribution to the well-being and proper functioning of the body. Each member can profit from the counsel and different perspective of other members of the body. All needs can be met. The body can function in a balanced way. And one that is so obvious we tend to miss it: diversity is the only way we can even have a body in the first place!
Shall we expect the Body of Christ to be any different?
Philippians 2:2 declares the wish that we be likeminded -- "Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." I suspect this refers back to 1:27 -- "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that . . . ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." So we must share this similar sentiment and ambition: Our lives will be consistent with the Gospel. On that we will stand fast, for that we will work together. We will know no lesser purpose.
This kind of likemindedness loudly, clearly, and insistently calls us to be of the same mind in our humble consideration of each other, in our humiliation for another's benefit, in our unflinching commitment to the Gospel, and in our desire to put Jesus absolutely first.
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