I haven’t posted in a long while. But I thought I’d post this. In my seminary class on conflict resolution we have been discussing things that are important to remember when working for peacemaking. Here is my response about the importance of unity over uniformity.
…Uniformity is a far simpler course of action. To achieve uniformity all we need is a powerful leader who can enforce the rules. To achieve uniformity we do not need God. We have seen uniformity in action and belief enforced throughout history. We have seen it in Nazi Germany. We have seen it in the Communist dictatorships around the world. We have seen it in the theocracy of many middle eastern countries. And it should be to our embarassment that we have seen it rear its ugly head througout the history of the church as well. The quest for uniformity of opinion, appearance, style, and socio-economic norms in the church is anti-biblical, and anti-God.
Unity is a balance of interdependent parts. Some of those parts may even seem to be directly opposed to one another. We can see this sort of unity in the apostles that Jesus chose to follow him. When Jesus called Matthew he was sitting in his tax collecting booth selling out his people for the Roman oppressors. And he called Matthew to join this group with a Zealot who was working to oppose this Roman oppression. He didn’t sit these men down and work through a systematic theology for a year to be sure they were on point with their theology before putting them together. Instead he said, “drop what you’re doing and follow me.” You can be sure there was some lively discussion among them about what it meant to follow Jesus.
But that is the point. It is only through diversity that we can have true unity. Uniformity is the enemy of unity. Uniformity causes us to expel what is different. That has nothing at all to do with unity. It is like a garden. I plant flowers among my vegetables. This attracts bees that help pollinate plants. It also attracts “pests” away from the vegetables. I could spray pesticide and get rid of the pests, but some of those pests do other good things for my plants. Some of my “weeds” in the garden help to correct the pH balance of the soil and can add valuable nutrients to the soil.
Even the Bible itself teaches crop rotation and allowing fields to lie fallow every seven years. And there is a lesson for us in peacemaking there. Monocropping is bad for the earth, and it is equally bad for the church and for our peacemaking. Sometimes there are things that come into the garden that seem to be working against the garden. But God teaches us to find unity. If we simply kick out everything that might work against our vegetables growing – if we spray them down with pesticides, rip out anything that is different, and make everything uniform – then we will have a garden full of pretty, uniform, and utterly lifeless vegetables. The same is true of our churches and of our lives.