Unity and Uniformity
‘We’re all in this together’ – do you remember that rallying cry a couple months back as political leaders sought to unite the country in the face the UK pandemic. A version of ‘togetherness’ soon overshadowed by the reality of a virus discriminately attacking those with underlying conditions; in lower income brackets; men more than women; those identifying as BAME.
And even in our daily lives, perhaps you, like me, knew that in reality our ‘togetherness’ was as diverse as our many varied living situations.
A romanticised version of togetherness is no basis for unity.
A shift in the media portrayal of unity was captured a few weeks ago in an anonymised poem doing the rounds on social platforms. “We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat ”.
( the talk on Sunday used this analogy –a really helpful take on a familiar bible passage: https://www.stjohnsblackheath.org.uk/category/sunday-services)
I really like the imagery. Different boats weathering the same storm. A more authentic version of ‘togetherness’. One that speak to the reality of diversity and inequality. Of a unity that makes room for individuality.
And yet, even our longing for justice, our passionate ‘wokeness’ can never be the basis for lasting unity.
With lockdown easing, the togetherness message seems to be cracking. Suddenly friends and neighbours are voicing deeply opposing views about pretty much everything related to Covid-19! Masks; schools re-opening, safety at work, public transport, furlough funding, releasing healthy elders from social isolation. It feels a bit ‘stingy’ (as my children used to say when it really hurt and they were trying to be brave!). And yes, it does sting.
As Christians our unity does not depend on agreeing about everything, on following a prescriptive set of rules and regulations.
Our unity is found in Jesus. God’s only son, sacrificed for us, dying on a cross, so that we could be united once more to God the Father, as his sons and daughters. (1Peter 3:18, John 3:16) Jesus, who when he looked at those who crucified him, simply forgave them.(Luke 23:34)
Online Church attendance has soared. There is a searching for meaning; for a common understanding of what’s going on in the world. Let’s bring the unity we have in Jesus to those discussions. Let’s share what we have together in the one who alone has the power to forgive our sins and unite us back to God, our Father.
Because of Jesus we can always swallow our pride, lay it down, and accept one another, just as Christ accepted each one of us, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)
In Jesus we have a gift of unity, without being bound by a false sense of uniformity.
By Victoria Alexander, Pastoral Co-ordinator
Father God, thank you for the unity we have in Jesus. Give us grace to hold fast to all that we have in Him. Amen.