Sunday, 25 October 2009

Unity in diversity

Barclay (1975) commenting on Luke 6:12-19 says “It is one of the miracles of the power of Christ that Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot could live at peace in the close company of the apostolic band. When we are really Christian the most diverse and divergent types can live at peace together” (p 75).

I am not going to claim that unity in diversity only occurs in Christian communities. Rather it is a trait that I have seen within some academic departments as I have observed universities in operation. In such groups, individual lectures and researchers can hold strongly very diverse opinions yet form a cohesive group that works well together to build a strong reputation for the department and university.

I notice this particularly because I came out of a department that self exploded because there wasn't this unity in diversity. When there isn't unity, the internal infighting destroys the ability to build a community that grows.

There are problems with communities that hold strongly diverse opinions when others who are not part of the community endeavour to interact with it. My mix of experience with the two universities led to a reluctance to express my views and to join one such community when something that I expressed was strongly criticised and I was cut off from speaking. Talking to the individual later, he apologised but it does present one of the problems where groups have internal unity where there is a diversity of views but fail to be able to interact with others outside their group.

Reflecting on the Christian community, it isn't a group that has internal unity in the midst of diversity. It is a group that should be able to reach out to those around them who disagree with the Christian ethos. It is this ability to draw others to the fellowship that should be a real characteristic of the Christian community.


Barclay, W. (1975). The gospel of Luke (revised ed.). Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press.

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