It has been said “Great minds think alike.”  And, at least to some point, I agree.  But I think it is more accurate to say “Great minds think differently.”

I like another saying: “When everyone is thinking alike, no one is thinking much.”

When did we come to believe that everyone has to think alike in order to get along?  Where did we ever get the notion that, unless we all think alike, we cannot be supportive of one another; that we cannot work together for a common goal?

I think we confuse the idea of unity with uniformity.  Truth is, the two are very different.

Unity is the ability – the gift – of being able to believe what you believe without viewing differing opinion as a threat.  It is the desire to work together, despite differences in understanding, toward a common goal.  Unity allows us the freedom to be who we are, while letting others be who they are.  Unity is the child of freedom.

Uniformity, however, is often the child of fear.  No one wants to take a stand or risk offending someone else, so we all just go along to get along.  We act the same, speak the same, think the same.  Uniformity is a constrictive way of living and thinking…it allows only for a narrow viewpoint, not creativity.

One of my favorite quotes by John Wesley – and one I think speak directly to unity – is this: “In essentials, unity; in non-essential, liberty; in all things, charity.”

In other words, when it comes to the Christian faith and discipleship, the essentials are things we all must agree upon, regardless of our differences.  Things like Jesus Christ as God’s Son, salvation, repentance, etc. are all essentials to the faith.

When it comes to the non-essentials of the faith, we allow each other some freedom.  Some non-essentials might be which version of the Bible you read, one’s views on the political landscape, etc.  None of these things are essential to our salvation, so we can allow for some liberty between ourselves.

Finally, Wesley rightly encourages us all to charity (love) toward one another in all situations.  We don’t have to agree on all things to be disciples of Jesus; we don’t have to agree on everything to do the work we’ve been called to do.

All we have to do is love.  That is what true unity brings.