Biblical oneness is marked by freedom because it takes into account one another’s uniqueness. Biblical oneness takes into account that each person has different needs and different interests. Indeed, biblical oneness is dependent on such uniqueness, since unity is rendered meaningless where there are no distinctions to be made.
The unity of the Trinity becomes more mysterious and precious when we consider that each member of the Trinity is unique. The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Spirit. They are unique. But each eternally and always moves towards and out from each other in free love. Their distinction makes their unity in love more precious.
The unity of the church works the same way. When members of a body of believers are truly unified it is very precious because we know that each member is truly unique, special and different. In instances where everyone is the same (and they get along merely because they are the same) the so-called unity is less valuable because it costs each person less. It is a paradox, indeed: the greater the differentiation between the members, the more precious the unity. But there cannot be differentiation without the granting of real freedom.
The same is true in marriage. People often marvel at how two people, who could be so different from one another, could go so many years being married to one another. The choice to stay with one another becomes more valuable when each person is allowed to be unique. But, again, there cannot be differentiation without the granting of real freedom.
Friendships and teams also work this way. In a healthy team, each person is allowed to be unique. It provides occasion for joy when different personalities and strengths come together for common cause. It provides even more joy when members of a team are each allowed to perform their job in their unique way, yet still make meaningful contributions to the whole.
Unity without differentiation is not unity; it is mere conformity. The paradox is: to achieve unity, each person must allow and even encourage differentiation in one another. To state it another way: sometimes the way to hold on to someone is to push them away. When we do that, we discover that unity occurs as a result of the free and willing response to remain with the other person that encourages such uniqueness. True unity, therefore, is quite possibly the most beautiful thing in the world. It is hard to acquire, though, because it involves a lot of trust, faith, risk, failure, forgiveness, grace and acceptance. It involves relinquishing control and freely loving. It is very precious.