Living in Unity Not Uniformity – Part 1

The theme of this year’s Mission Worship conference was ‘One Voice, One Church, One Mission’.  In a nutshell being united as the body of Christ.  This was based on Mark 3 v25 where Jesus is praying for his disciples and all believers that they would be completely united, i.e. to be as one as the Father, Son and Spirit is one.  This highlights how important an issue this is. There is so much to look into on this subject so I will spend the next two blogs looking more closely at this area.

Something that was explained so clearly and helped me remember and challenge my own outlook is understanding that unity does not mean uniformity.  We often make the mistake of thinking one is the other.  The definition of unity is ‘the state of being united or joined as a whole’.  The definition of uniformity includes such words as ‘conformity, invariability, sameness, monotony’.

‘Uniformity’ takes me back to my childhood remembering the groups of children who knew how to fit in, who wore the right clothes and said the right things.  For anyone like me who has never seemed to fit neatly into a group this was difficult. For a while I bought into the lie that to be special and popular and loved I had to conform to be like everyone else.  No matter how hard I tried I always ended up on the fringes of groups.  This meant that I hated to work in a group.  I would choose to work alone in that way I couldn’t let anyone down, couldn’t be rejected or unwanted and could just stay safe in my own little world. For a long time, I missed the blessing that can come with working in a group.

Over the years I have grown in my faith and relationship with God and I have started to understand more about the importance of unity and team work.  Right at the beginning of the Bible it says ‘Man should not be alone’ (Genesis 2vs18), so we were born to be in relationship, with each other and most importantly with God.  So we need to look at how we can work together, united in our faith, in the love of God and who we are in Christ, while still maintaining our individuality and differences.

It is clear that this topic was an issue in the New Testament – ‘Just as one body, through one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ’ (1 Corinthians 12vs12). This passage looks at being one in the body of Christ, but celebrating our differences. It is easy to look at someone and be jealous of the gifting they have and to wish that we could be like them. However, if we were all leaders, who would follow? If we all welcomed who would encourage? If we all led worship who would teach?

When we focus on what we don’t have we lose the blessing and peace that comes with being who God created us to be.  God has given each one of us different characters, abilities, gifting and abilities, and I believe that he has an individual purpose and plan for each one of us.

Several years ago I read such a clear example of how we can glorify God.  ‘By being a jellyfish the jellyfish glorifies its creator, for by being a jellyfish it fulfils its creator’s command’. I know God has created me to be an encourager, so to glorify God I encourage others using the gifting that God has given me.  We can glorify God by being the person of God we have been created to be.  Be encouraged! God wants us to be ourselves, drawing strength, peace, joy and love from Him.

Next week I will look at celebrating differences, team work and different characteristics of God.  I pray that you would have a blessed week and truly know the love of God and the peace of our Heavenly Father.

God bless, Kat

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