Corner of Crown & Albion Streets, Surry Hills, NSW, Australia
Photo by Albert Chiu



The stained glass windows of CPC's auditorium.

Pastoral Letter 26th September 2021

Rev. Andrew Choy

Unity or Uniformity?

A young rabbi observed a serious problem in his synagogue.  During their weekly gatherings, half of the congregation stood up when praying, while the other half continued to sit in the pews.  One side of the congregation would always criticise the other side, insisting that their prayer tradition was the most correct.  The young rabbi had tried numerous ways to bridge this divide but to no avail; and in despair, he sought guidance from the founder of that synagogue, a 99-year-old rabbi.  

The young rabbi confided his troubles to the old rabbi, “Please tell me, do we stand up when we pray as a congregation?” The old rabbi replied, “No.”

The young rabbi continued, “Then do we sit down when we pray?” The old rabbi replied, “No.”

The young rabbi uttered, “Why on earth is our gathering a complete chaos?!  Half of the people are standing and shouting, while the other half are sitting and screaming.”  The old rabbi replied resignedly, “Well, this is our usual style.”

The problem faced by the young rabbi illustrates one of the reasons why it is so difficult for the Christian community to be in unity.  We insist on our views, thinking that our opinion is the best and the only truth.  Indeed, what does unity really mean?

There are many who have a misconception of the meaning of unity.  Some may consider unity in the spirit as unification at the organisational level, or uniformity in form.  If that is the case, the uniqueness of an individual can easily be overlooked, and individuals may even be shunned (1 Cor 12:14-16, 21).  I am not suggesting that unity is easy to attain; in fact, achieving unity is a formidable task, and the difficulty lies in the fact that each and every one of us is different.  

Paradoxically, the prerequisite for unity is our individuality and our different gifts (1 Cor 12;12-13, 18-20).  As what Paul wrote in 1 Cor 12:17, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?  If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?”  Only when we have a sober judgement of our roles and our strengths, and are willing to be humble (Phil 2:3) and to offer our unique portion can we be of use by the Lord to build up the body of Christ.  Brothers and sisters, this is not uniformity, but it is the essence of unity.


一位年輕的拉比在他的猶太會堂中,發現了一個嚴重的問題。在每週的聚會裡,一半的會眾站著祈禱,一半的人卻仍然坐著;其中一方總是向另一方大叫,堅稱他們祈禱的傳統是最正確的。這年輕的拉比無論做甚麼,都不能解決僵局。在絕望中,年輕的拉比找到了此猶太會堂99 歲的創辦人。





很多人對合一存着誤解,認為靈裡的合一,便是組織上的統一,或形式上的劃一。若是這樣,我們很容易忽略各人的獨特性,甚至有可能把別人排斥在外(林前12:14-16, 21)。我並不是說,合一是一件容易的事;相反,合一是非常困難的,其困難在於我們每個人都不同。

弔詭的是,合一的先決條件,正是基於各有不同,且各有所長(林前12:12-13, 18-20)。正如保羅所說:「若全身是眼,從那裡聽聲呢?若全身是耳,從那裡聞味呢?」(林前12:17)唯有當我們認清自己的角色和專長,存謙卑的心(腓2:3),願意把與人不同的一份獻上,才能為主使用,叫基督的身體得著建立。弟兄姊妹,這雖不像劃一,但卻是合一的精髓。

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