In this post, I’m concluding my short miniseries of reflections on unity and diversity, spawned in part by my attendance at a recent CAC conference. As I stated last week, diversity and love together form unity, because God’s love covers all that God has made, in every community around the world.
This week, I want to reflect on unity and uniformity in a culture that’s struggling to understand the difference.
Let’s start with the word community, because the word itself makes my point. When we live in community, we are literally evoking “comm,” or togetherness (think “commingled”), with “unity.” The word isn’t communiformity. We don’t all have to look, think, and act identically (although there have been nation-states throughout history that have tried to make us think so, such as the Nazi regime).
Instead, as I stated last week, I believe we are called to embrace our complementary differences in service of a broader purpose: living together in peace and, with God’s help, love. As children, we learn to distinguish ourselves from others through noticing difference. That doesn’t mean we seek to negate or destroy those differences, but rather to embrace them in a unified whole: community.
What does that mean in everyday life? It means that some grow food while others teach children. It means that some are taught how to mend and fix physical things while others learn how to envision more whole and holistic societies. As scripture tells us, we are all members of one body, and cannot say that hands or heart or bones are unnecessary. It is unity, not uniformity, that makes community work.
So, what does that mean for you and me? How can we model community, not communiformity, in our interactions with others? I invite you to look for opportunities to speak up for those who bring (or could offer) different gifts, skills, and experience to your various communities. Take the time to find out what others have to offer and imagine ways to include them. Also, pray about how to share this message with others.