Unity Not Uniformity

My dad and mom came from the same small community.  In most cases, there were multi-generations of families in this community. They all knew what was expected of each other with roles being clearly defined.  For example, within families the man knew what was expected of him as a husband and a father.  You were frowned upon if you did not behave that way.   The same was true for the women.  Many of the families were farmers, ranchers, dairymen or local small-town merchants.   Uniformity and sameness were expected.  Limited perspective leading to small mindedness frequently ruled the day.  Those who did not fit in were ostracized.  Brothers and sisters, uniformity and sameness are not Christian community.

Christian community is unity and oneness which respects the differences of others who are not the same.  This starts in our homes and marriages where the backgrounds of the husband and wife are so different which leads to huge frustrations and arguments.  How do you build oneness when two are so different and spend so much time together daily?  Romans 15:7 tells you clearly how, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Jesus says accept and cherish your spouse “in order to bring praise to God.” How about that messy neighbor, loud family at church, selfish business colleague, or couple whose kid plays on the same team as yours who are different racially and/or culturally?  You learn to love them by faith. If you choose to do this, you will discover that Jesus will give you love and appreciation for them. Christ loves U-N-I-T-Y.

A beautiful Bible passage that succinctly pictures the dynamics of Christian community is discovered in Romans 15, “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up…May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Be a builder of unity and oneness.  Learn to endure and encourage others appreciating differences and accepting each other “enabling God to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20&21).  That, my friend, is dynamic.

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