Unity in Diversity

2 Cor. 10:7.---' Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.'

The virtue in most request in society is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs. The facts of life and experience confirms this. Then whole tendency of society is to destroy individuality and to produce a level and monotonous uniformity. Every child who comes into this world from the hand of God is unique. But from the moment of his birth all the forces of social life set to work upon that little child to destroy his individuality and turn him out a copy of the approved and recognized type. Society has its forms and conventions and standards, and these it seeks to impose upon every living person.

But human individuality refuses to conform to our conventions. The individual man refuses to be sampled with others. He is himself after all, and no other. He is his own world; he has his own center of interest. In this way every single and separate personality that we encounter presents us with a new problem, and asks for a new solution. Personality has its sacred right to be what it is. It can no more be bound by our scheme of classification than Samson by the bands of the Philistines. Try to tie it up to a beam of your own invention, and it will walk off with the beam and all. We can but accept the facts. After all, why should we wish to impress our own ideals upon another? Why should we require him to conform to our way of thinking? God has given him a distinct and separate purpose of His own devising, and to Him alone he answers for what he makes of it. God has not exhausted His creative powers in creating us. The very certainty with which we ourselves recognize the Divine intention in our own making ought to render us anxious to recognize the freedom and elasticity of the same Divine intention in others. We all witness to one God, and no one can override any other's claim. So, thinking of the endless variety of individuals, we fall back, again and again, on this recognition by St. Paul of our common origin, and of the common authority to which we all lay our claim, and say, 'If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are all these.'

Belief in God, in and through Christ, endows every separate personality with this sacred right to be itself. Yet it is just when we get to conscious belief in Christ that we find we find this most difficult to recognize. But this is the exact point which the text enforces. In the rough and tumble of ordinary affairs, every individual may have his own way of saying things. We can allow for a mixed hubbub of views, perhaps, in the world's business, or in politics, or in matters of sentiment, but how can we tolerate differences and divergences in this central and vital matter? If we are Christ's, then we feel that all who are Christ's must share our special secret, must arrive at our precise conclusion, must judge life by our standards and measures, must like what we like, and hate what we hate. And the more strenuous our faith, the more convincing this argument seems. But we know too well what evils have been wrought by this conviction. It is through this most plausible argument that Christians of undoubted sincerity and devotion have been swept into bitter dissentions and severe persecutions. And it is to correct and check this perilous instinct of Faith that Paul delivers this warning.

It is a thing perfectly right and even noble in a man that he should say---"This is true, I pledge my life upon it!" but no man has the right to say "This only is true," because he ought to remember that something else may be true which it is not given him to discern. We can scarcely have a more pertinent illustration of this intolerance than in the case of Luther, who is eager to tear the whole Epistle of St. James out of the New Testament, because he is incapable of seeing how it shapes with the vital truth that man is saved not by works, but by grace and faith: and yet Luther himself was a great heretic, who had insisted upon his right of private interpretation of truth against the whole force of the Roman Church. If Luther was capable of recognizing truth, surely St. James was not less capable, and had an even better opportunity.

The trust of a man that he is Christ's---did not Paul know it in all its impressive vehemence, and mastery, and joy? It had been to the Apostle the very life of life---to feel that it is not he that lives, but Christ that lives in him. To his own Master he stands or falls; he cannot admit any other man's judgment. He is Christ's, and Christ is his. Nothing else counts. This is all true, but it is not the whole truth.

It is good indeed if a man can think that he is Christ's; but, granted that, there is something more to be considered. 'Let he himself think this again.' It is true he may be Christ's, and yet it does not follow that he has absorbed all that there is of Christ. Christ is far more than any one man can cover. What Christ has done for him He will do far all others, and to each He will show Himself to be his all in all. To every one, in his distinct and separate identity, He will disclose His particular secret. Just as this one man knows Christ for himself alone, so all may know Him. In this He shows Himself absolute and universal; not in the sameness of His manifestation, but in its utter diversity. There is no one individual for which He has not a special and individual disclosure of Himself to make. Therefore, let the true believer who thinks that he is Christ's own, be perfectly prepared to find that others whose judgment he disputes, and whose sentiments are wholly the reverse of his own, are nevertheless just as much Christ's as he is. For there is no reason why this same loyalty to one Lord should not express itself in a thousand divergent ways through a multitude of differing characters. Each must answer for himself to the one Lord. But we have no right to demand that his experience of that Master should conform to ours. We must honor the sacred claims of individuality, and grant to others what we claim for ourselves. 'If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him, then, of himself think this again, that as he is Christ's, so also are we Christ's.

So, what we find in this statement of the Apostle's is that loyalty and love to Jesus Christ are expressed in a myriad different ways, and every way is justified: that there is much more in Christ than is grasped or expressed by any individual or by any Church, and that we have no right to demand that our experience shall be the measure of others' experience too.

The gifts of diversity as contributing to the unity of vision may be seen every day. Suppose we ask the artist, the sculptor, and the poet to interpret "evening" for us, how do they achieve it? What is the unity of vision? The artist takes his canvas and pigments and gives a glorious setting sun, bathed inn rich colors of gold and purple, with the darkening shadows gathering swiftly. The sculptor, on the other hand, has no colors with which to work, so he gets the vision of a tired mother weary and worn; in her arms is a sleeping child. This the sculptor carves in marble, and produces the sensation in the mind of the onlooker or rest, calm, and peace and darkening shadows. The comes the pen-poet, and in a few lines he tells us that, The starry host, rode brightest, till the Moon, Rising in clouded majesty, at length Apparent queen, unveiled her peerless light, And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.

Our Lord did not insist that all who sympathized with His purpose and method should unite themselves with His own little band. 'Master,' said one of His disciples, 'we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him because he followeth not with us.' The man was doing good work, saving work, but that disciple wanted to stop him solely 'because he followeth not with us.' Jesus refused to forbid that irregular worker. He knew that there were diversities of operation but the same spirit. Diversities of administration; and still the same spirit. 'Look.' cries the crowd of believers out of every tongue, and tribe, and people, and nation, 'how different we are, how strangely unlike one another! How remote in type, and character, and circumstance; in race, and color, and blood! How sharply contrasted our use, our experience, our personal story, our feeling! And yet this is our wonder, this is our glory. We all trust in one Master, we all verify one Truth, we all are saved by one Cross, we all illustrate one risen Life.' We may be unintelligible to one another, but Christ is intelligible to each other in Him.

We are like we are in the fraternal intimacy of a Summer Camp. We meet members from every variety of Christian denomination, and nothing can be more easy and sympathetic than the life we live in common. We talk, and play, and confer, and pray together without a shadow upon our freedom of spiritual interchange. We find ourselves under the sway of one spirit, knit fast to one another, anxious for one another's fellowship, rejoicing in one another's good, intent on the same ends, sharing the hopes and sanctities dear to Christian hearts---every denomination recognized as part of the religious life of the nations, all feeling themselves an integral part of the army of the Kingdom of God, realizing that they belong to one another, and that all great souls belong to all. I belong to the order of all the saints, and all the saints belong to me.

How sweet and pleasant it is to the truly spiritual eye to see several sorts of believers, several forms of Christians, in the school of Christ, every one learning their own lesson, performing their own peculiar service, and knowing, owning and loving one another in the several places and different performances to their Master, to whom they are to give an account, and not to quarrel with one another about their different practices. For this is the true ground of love and unity, not that such a man walks and does just as I do, but because I feel the same spirit and life in him.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha