The difference between unity and uniformity can not be given adequate emphasis in our multi-cultural congregation. No one ethnicity comprises a majority of MCA Church adherents, volunteers, or donors. We are a collection of diverse people brought together by God as a microcosm of the age to come.
Uniformity requires a standardization and similarity. Of sorts, uniformity is an external matter that can be seen. Uniformity hints at aligning with a standard, pattern, or paradigm. It begs us to think the same, look identical, sound similar, and be of the patterned shape. Thus the “uni” and the “form” parts of the word.
Unity, on the other hand, is more of an internal matter of the heart and soul. Unity is the quality or state of not being multiple, a condition of harmony, the quality or state of being one (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unity).
My family is a unity. We have each other’s love, respect, and are growing in harmony and the state of being one. We have unity. However, we all have different spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional forms. We are diverse within our unity.
Multicultural congregations have the opportunity to show each other and those who would observe from the outside that God’s family is not primarily a unity that demands conformity but, rather, a glorious unity amidst dynamic diversity.
MCA Church understands that unity requires a level of essential uniformity with general diversity. The essential uniformity are matters of faith that identify the core ingredients of our belief systems. Membership in Muldoon Community Assembly requires the uniformity of belief that the Bible is the infallible, authoritative, inerrant word of God and the only rule of faith and practice. This required essential uniformity then blossoms into hundreds of diverse forms.
St. Paul said to the Ephesian church,
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:3
Paul’s word selection for unity in verse three is from the Greek word, one. A great way to say what Paul had in mind is “one-ness” or oneness. When we align with Paul’s teaching we are committed to the one-ness of “one body and one Spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.”
The power of oneness or unity is gargantuan. The Spirit’s unity is so vital that we are to be eager to maintain it. MCA Church, we are one!
At the same time, we have multiple forms. We are people of many ethnicities, backgrounds, nationalities, political parties, cultures, tastes, and interests.
We share each other’s heart. We celebrate each other’s diversity.
One of our congregation’s recent opportunities was to grieve with our Thai friends as they walked through the loss of their beloved king. Most of our congregation have never lived in an earthly kingdom, never been subject to a king, nor have much understanding of the deep love our Thai families have for their king.
The participants in our loving church family have many various backgrounds in relationship to governments.
- Many of our Inupiat, Yup’ik, Athabascan, and Aleuts are familiar with government by tribal elders.
- Pastor Edgardo and Miriam have been effective for our Lord in El Salvador’s presidential representative democratic republic.
- Our Burkina Faso congregations live with a President, Prime Minister, and King type of government (one of my life’s joys was meeting with the Prime Minister and the King).
- Those from Russia and the nations of the former Soviet Union have served Christ faithfully under leaders such as the eighth Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev and President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.
- Our Sudanese participants are familiar with what is officially named a presidential representative democratic consociationalist republic.
- Many others from Central and South America know various forms of government. Our church family includes great people from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Brazil.
- My good Australian Aboriginal brothers and sisters (The indigenous people of Australia are considered the longest surviving culture on earth) have served God faithfully through many varieties of government.
MCA Church is a powerful unity who has served God faithfully without the general uniformity of government systems. My first experience, personally, with the awareness of God’s kingdom being beyond government systems came to me on my first day in Kolkata (Calcutta then), India in 1978.
As my sister and I walked down Royd Street to meet with Missionary Mark Buntain, I looked up and saw the hammer and sickle flags flying. To this day I am not sure what the flags represented, maybe a foreign flag or a state flag or a region flag.
Like a lightening bolt it hit this just turned eighteen year old, “God’s kingdom and the Gospel are not related to national boundaries, governments, and systems.”
Tuesday, November 8, 2016 revealed to the world that the United States of America is a nation of many various and often contradictory views of the roll of government, what is best for our nation, who is qualified to lead our people, and the directions in which this nation should go.
Some segments call Tuesday a miracle. Others consider it a catastrophe.
Both of these opinions are welcomed at MCA Church. Political uniformity is not essential nor even expected in our House of Worship. My very best friends and I disagree on politics and elections all the time (especially this election). I wouldn’t be surprised if our seven board members voted for seven different candidates and who knows how our pastoral staff voted?
With eleven weekend services it may be that each service had voting similarities or huge variation. Your vote was your moral conscience in written form and is totally encouraged on every level.
MCA Church doesn’t expect, intend, or hope for political uniformity.
Unity of the Spirit in our congregations? ABSOLUTELY. We love each other, live in harmony, and are one in Christ. Don’t mess with a democrat at MCA! Our Republicans will get all up in your face and say, “Don’t mess with my family!” Got a hankering to demean a Republican? You’ll get an earful from our democrat members. Why? Because we love each other and honor unity without expecting general uniformity.
It is in this unity of the Spirit that we continue to do the work of the Spirit to which we feel God has called us.
At the core of our unity and essential uniformity is the ending of the two most sinful behaviors in our beloved United States of America, racism and abortion.
Abortion kills people before they are born. Racism kills people after they are born.
Both are ABOMINATIONS before God. There is no excuse for either of these atrocities to exist in the heart of a disciple of Jesus.
If you HATE racism, release your creative solutions and help change all of Alaska.
If you HATE abortion, live out your calling with positive solutions and love.
MCA Church, are you up for a God sized dream?
Let’s maintain the unity of the Spirit and help Alaska become the first State to destroy these two egregious sins.
I voted in hopes of ending abortion. Let’s team up and find an end to the killing.
You voted in hopes of ending racism. Let’s join together and see it’s demise.