Alan Knox started a chain blog on Real Relationship Unity and the first bloggers did a beautiful job of sharing what Christian unity is - simply put - it is finding unity in Christ alone. I will try to add to the conversation by breaking down a little more what that means.
I have found that what God is trying to do in our individual lives parallels what God is doing corporately in His Church. If change always happens from the inside - out and one person at a time, then it makes sense that God unifies His Church by molding hearts one at a time. And I believe the most effective way He molds hearts is through relationships.
The first step in having relational unity is understanding that I am not perfect. I have to acknowledge that I have strengths and I have weaknesses.
Step two is understanding that God is purposeful in who He puts in our lives. God molds our hearts by shedding His light on our strengths & weaknesses and He does that best in close honest relationships with others that are different from us. God purposefully puts people closest to us that are very different from us for a specific reason.
Step three is understanding that although God uses us in each other's lives, it is not our job to focus on other's weaknesses but instead, focus on their strengths. This is also known as love. Bringing out the best in others, focusing on Christ in them (the strengths God gifted them with) is a form of love. God molds us in relationships not when we try to teach each other (aka focusing on or pointing out other's weaknesses) but by having an open heart and looking for the best in each other. And when we see the best in others, there is always something to learn from that strength in them. We all instinctively know that God wants to use us in each other's lives, so it is an easy trap to fall into to try to focus on correcting & changing others. Instead, like everything else in our spiritual walk, we have to surrender what is in our nature and trust and allow God to do His work while we do the humbling (as in being humbled, being humble).
So if we understand we are not perfect, that God is sovereign and deliberately wants us to be around people who are different from us and that He desires us to have an open heart to see what we can learn from others.... then we are ready for relational unity.
If all 3 of these steps are followed, then I do believe we will build each other up in Christ. And when individuals are built up in Christ - the strengths of each individuals come together to form into Jesus' *perfect* personality.
If instead we do opposite of these 3 steps, we will have relationship division & disaster. If we think we are superior in knowledge, personality, insight or understanding and don't have anything to learn from others...If we think it is always our job to choose who we want to hang out with (which in our nature, we will always pick people that make us comfortable because they are like us)....And if we are always try to teach others and change others, then our differences will always be central and the focus of our relationship and nobody will grow. We will not be able to build each other up.... and what is then seen corporately is all the weaknesses lifted up...which does not represent our perfect Jesus. :(
Each of these steps I wrote about on an individual level can be applied corporately. Denominations, just like individual personalities, have strengths & weaknesses. Every single one of them! No organization is perfect just like no individual is perfect. No theologian is perfect. Nothing and nobody is perfect --- but together, all our strengths are being built up and point to the One who is perfect. Our strengths ARE Jesus living through us! Amazing!!
I do believe relational unity with extreme diversity is always possible, and not only possible, but it is God's design for us. God did not gift any one person with all possible strengths. God did not gift any denomination/group with all possible revelation/insight. God did not gift any set of people with all possible passions & strengths. But ALL those strengths together are all perfect, like our Lord! The strengths of everything fit together perfectly... in a balanced crazy paradox. We can have unity across denominations, theological differences, generations, socioeconomic status and among individual personalities.
This post is getting too long.... but I would love to write another post on specifically what unity among different personalities looks like.
This blog sounds a lot like a blog I just wrote not too long ago on personalities.
The Personality of the Body
Thanks for letting me share!!