Unity, conformity and abuse

The last issue of IDEA magazine, the magazine of the Evangelical Alliance in the UK, has been about unity. Issues tend to be themed these days.

One thing that struck me as \I recently re-read was the difference between unity and conformity.


Unity is different people with different gifts and even ideas working together. Everybody shares the workload and the credit.


Conformity on the other hand is when one small group wants everyone to do what they tell them, to conform to their views and standards. They use the language of unity, but it does not work like unity. With conformity many put in the effort but only a few get the credit.

The Bible is against conformity, IDEA magazine tells me, with only St Paul having anything positive to say about it, and that was for us to be conformed to Christ. The difference is that Christ would be loving and never abusive. I’ll go further than IDEA here and say what I feel about conformity: It is a form of abuse.

So whenever you hear a leader saying they want unity, but are telling you what you have to do, which amounts to be like them, they are being abusive. That goes for preachers as well as politicians. (Sometimes I can’t tell which is which).

But when you see Christians who are not like you, there is a tendency to want them to be like you are. But God has only created one of you, they are something else, a unique creation of God. The Biblical picture of the church is of diversity, some called to be this, some that. Even if you do not agree on your theology you are one. The church, of which you are apart is the creation of Christ through his blood, and you are one with the right wing Christians who voted Trump in the USA, whether you like it or not. You are one with the Christian socialists whether you like it or not. (I support the Liberal Democrats in the UK, and I don’t like either, but that does not mean I am not one with them in Christ.)

In the UK the church has a opportunity here, to demonstrate what unity means in the context of diversity. The country is already divided over Brexit, and the General Election in the next few weeks is not likely to help in that regard. We can demonstrate oneness across that divide, which is something this country needs.


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