Christianity 201

September 7, 2012

Unity is Not Uniformity

Joshua Rhone blogs at — wait for it —, where this post appeared recently as …

Uniformity vs. Unity

In the fourth chapter of his letter to the Ephesian church the apostle Paul writes,

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)

I spend a lot of time thinking about the church; how the church is structured; and how the members of the body relate to one another. Over the last few years I have found Ephesians 4 to be inescapable, as it in some measure speaks to each of these things.

Recently, I have been particularly captivated by Paul’s understanding regarding the diversity that exists in the body of Christ (the church). Here, Paul identifies five unique ministries — apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. Elsewhere, when Paul talks about the body, he goes into even greater detail regarding the uniqueness and variety that God has given to the members of his church.

In looking at this text on this occasion, I have little to no interest regarding the particularities of the ministries. All that matters insofar as I am concerned this evening is that there are multiple and diverse gifts that God gives to the body. He gives these gifts with the expressed intention that: 1) the body of Christ be built up and, 2) the body reach unity. The ultimate desire being a mature people who attain the full measure of Christ.

Where I would like us to focus our attention is on one small word: unity. God’s desire, at least so far as it is summarized by Paul, is that the church reach unity. Extend me the courtesy to say it again: God’s desire is that the church reach unity.

Say it with me, now: UNITY.

Not uniformity.


They may not sound or seem all that different. In reality, however, the difference is huge. A uniform thing has an overall sameness. It is homogenous. Unity, by contrast, does not demand sameness. Rather, in unity different and diverse things come together in such a way that they are no longer divided, separated, and/or broken.

God’s desire for the church wasn’t a group of people who look and dress the same. God’s desire wasn’t even for the body to agree on everything. Rather, God’s desire was the the uniqueness and diversity that exists within the body lead to wholeness rather than brokenness.

Wholeness doesn’t come by being the same.

A lack of division doesn’t stem from everyone thinking the same thing.

Unity is the result of multiple and diverse members submitting to Christ and one another in and out of love. Unity comes as we seek not our own interests, but rather the interest of God and the well-being of one another.

The doctrine of the Trinity is the most beautiful and accurate depiction of this. One God. Three Persons. Perfect love. Mutual submission. Blessed Trinity.

~Joshua Rhone

Joshua could use your prayers right now, to learn more click here.

1 Comment »

  1. This is excellent Joshua. Thanks for bringing this today.
    Ben Nelson

    Comment by Ben Nelson — September 7, 2012 @ 9:49 pm | Reply

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