We hear a lot about Unity in the news. Countries desperately try to create Unity to put a halt to wars and factions. In our personal lives, we try to nurture Unity within our personal and work relationships for the sake of peace and productive life. We do not want the avoidable and unnecessary drama that bring more stress into our lives, so we seek peace in some way, shape or form.
A peaceful life gives us the psychological space we need for good mental health. If we have good mental health, then we can better look after the needs of our bodies and Spirit. So living in peace is very important. The Bible I full of instructions on how to live in Unity; however, we run into problems when our diversity gets in the way of Unity. We face a dilemma, do we stick our heels in and refuse to budge, which runs the risk of unrest? Or, do we compromise for the sake of Unity? In this blog post, we are looking at the Christian views of Unity in diversity- so if that is something that interests you, please keep reading!
According to Wikipedia, Unity in diversity is an expression of harmony and Unity between dissimilar individuals or groups. It is a concept of “unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation” shifts focus from Unity based on a mere tolerance of physical, cultural, linguistic, social, religious, political, ideological and psychological differences to a more complex unity based on the understanding that difference enriches human interactions. The phrase is ancient and dates to ancient times in both Western and Eastern Old-World cultures. It has applications in many modern academic fields. The Christian Church has a similar idea of Unity in diversity but goes a step further as to its origins. The Christian vision of diversity is fundamental to two doctrines of Holy Scripture-
(1) the Unity of the whole human race,
(2) the universality of the Christian Church, as the Body of Christ
History shows that Christian communities face significant challenges in applying these truths and expressing the need for a changed heart to overcome the prejudice that dominates so many believers and non-believers. God teaches us in Holy Scripture that human beings are ONE (in completed Unity). Jesus said, ‘be as One as the Father and I are One, and Paul preached to the Athenian philosophers, “From ONE man God made every nation of the human race, that they should inhabit the whole earth”.
Human diversification receives its first mention in Genesis 1:27 “So God created the human race in his own image . . . male and female he made them.” The text’s singular term, “human race.”
(`Adam in Hebrew), is specified as diverse in gender, male and female. The idea of diversification is within the Cultural Mandate of Genesis 1:28:
“Be fruitful, increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.” This divine command calls explicitly for the scattering of the race — a theme that shall recur in the Genesis story– and calls enthusiastically for cultural diversification. It is within this greater context of Unity that humanity’s diversity reveals Gods love for all creation. Hence, it is clear that the Bible provides no approval of anti-multiculturalism as sometimes expressed in the world of dogmas.
The Enemy of Unity
Different Christian denominations appeared through Cultural imperialism and prejudice of all kinds ends by shattering the human community into a thousand fragments. Each fragment becomes a subculture jealously defending its interests against all the others. From the beginning of time, this was not God’s plan but a result of selfish human pride.
Unity is Not the Same as Uniformity.
Unity, in fact, is the reconciliation of differences and must nurture those differences for a healthy society to flourish. To forge a healthy Church and society. We must distinguish things and separate them, usually at a cost to ourselves, before we can spiritually unite them and make them work (Ephesians 2:14‒16).
Perhaps if we had made that simple distinction between uniformity and true Unity, a big problem. Especially by those who overemphasized separate identities and individualism. The great wisdom of Pentecost is the recognition through the Spirit of an underlying unity amidst the many human differences! Paul made this universal principle very clear in several of his letters. For example, “(1 Corinthians 12:4–6). “There is a variety of gifts, but it is always the same Spirit. There are all sorts of services to be done, but always the same Lord, working in all sorts of different ways in different people. It is the same God working in all of them“.
We see this beautiful diversity and yet Unity in the the universe itself—from Latin, unus + versus meaning- “to turn around one thing.” Now, after the traumatic effect of the pandemic upon our lives, let’s pick up the pieces of our lives, to turn around anything that would promote the fragmenting of our lives, Church or society.
Jesus Prays for All Believers
John 17: 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I also pray for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 in them and you in me—so that may bring them to complete Unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
As we continue to celebrate the season of Pentecost, let we also celebrate our Unity within our diversity and continue to love, respect, and learn from each other.
This is article is a snippet from my new book about Holistic Living, which features Mindfulness and issues around mental health. It will be published and made available to you later in the year (2021) – so keep a lookout for that!
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Paula Rose Parish