Only fellowship with people with the same beliefs as you!

"Of Like Faith" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Of Like Faith” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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Unity is not conformity.
Unity is not compatibility.
Unity is not likeness.
Unity is not similarity.
Unity is not homogeneity.
Unity is not the loss of independence.

The greater the diversity the greater the love.
The greater the love the greater the diversity.

Unity means the responsible expression of personal independence.

Sure, the perpetual burning question is, “How do I express my freedom without violating the freedom of others?”

There’s never an answer. But it is a vast and discoverable land inviting us to explore it.

No, it is not the easiest. But it is the most real and meaningful.

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10 Responses

  1. Danica says:

    “How do I express my freedom without violating the freedom of others?”

    YES. Because it’s inevitable in life we’ll bump up against each other, hurt each other, not understand each other.

    I think that holding relationships with hope in the one hand and love in the other, while striving towards truth, is a key.

  2. I do think it is key as well.

  3. AJ says:

    My daughter asked me about this yesterday. I expressed that I would want to know what a church’s theology was before I would attend there regularly. She said so you only want to hang out with people you agree with?

    I love hanging out with people of diverse opinions, my problem is doing that in an environment where diverse opinions are not tolerated. I’m tired of being the one not tolerated and prefer non church environments where questions and doubt are accepted.

    Welcome back, hope it was amazing.

  4. I love trying to create spaces where diverse opinions are tolerated. Very very difficult but totally worth it. It gives me glimpses of who we really are and can be. And yes, it was amazing!

  5. Teague Frawley says:

    There is not unity without diversity. Diversity without unity is Chaos. Unity without diversity is actually conformity.

  6. Ducatihero says:

    I hope you are feeling refreshed after your break David.

    I’m not sure if I would buy into your definition of the meaning of unity as “the responsible expression of personal independence.” There other ways in which unity has been defined of course.

    Nevertheless, that’s a great question about expression of freedom without violating freedom of others.

    It’s been said that dictators want freedom for themselves and not freedom for everyone. It would be naiive to think that there is not a little of that in all of us the – inclination to be focused on “me” encouraged by the individualistic cultures we live in.

    It seems therefore that freedom to do anything is no freedom at all. So if that is true of dictators, it follows it is true for everyone. Our flourishing is dependent on the flourishing of all. So, though thought each one of us having independence, we are all interdependent.

    So, there needs to be some focus other than “me”, which then surely puts the spotlight on the need for legitimate restrictions to some freedoms in order that freedom may be achieved for all.

  7. Reema says:

    Without fellowship or at least an effort to build common ground, you create potential for misunderstanding, animosity, phobia (of particular religions), and like we see on the news every day, War. So, well said, Nakedpastor!

  8. Yasmin says:

    I am truly blessed to have found a church in which there is no creed, no list of beliefs that must be accepted, no requirements of any kind in that respect. We are a Congregational Church, which really only tells you how we are governed, not what we believe. Our pastor keeps stressing that our faith is not something to be described in words, but in how we live our lives.

    We have our bible studies, and our discussions of books. We all love those, because we learn about each other’s beliefs in greater detail. It’s amazing how much we vary, but are totally united in the love, support, respect, and service that are the bedrock on which our church is built. I find that my own faith grows, changes, and blooms when I learn what other people believe, however different it may be. Most of us grow up in a church or religious environment, and have internalized what we learned as children. We’ve internalized those things in the form in which we learned them, as stories suitable for children, and very few of us ever examine them anymore. To hear what other people believe is to bring those stories out of our subconsciences, dust them off, and re-examine them as adults. I have always found that enlightening for myself. I honestly believe that my own faith would stagnate if I only fellowshipped with people who believe exactly as I do. Those internalized “stories” would never be examined, and they’d remain in childish form, if they were never questioned.

    What our church also does indirectly is to make each of us responsible for our own spiritual health. We certainly support one another in that, and learn together, and teach each other, but there is no one who tells us what we must believe, or who tests us to be sure our beliefs conform to anything. If you are not told what to believe, you’re going to have to figure that out for yourself. In my opinion, that’s extremely healthy, but maybe only because it works so well for me and the others in my church.

    Oh, how grateful I am for my church! It is one of the few places where people can disagree about matters of faith, but where all such conversations are held in the spirit of “That’s fascinating! Please tell me more!” Everyone truly wants to hear more, and every point of view is met with interest and respect. Because of that, there is also gentle disagreement, which is perfectly fine with all concerned. This is all very hard to believe, I know, but we’re a small group that values that climate enough to make sure it thrives.

  9. not hard to believe Yasmin. I’ve been a part of such communities as well.

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