Unity and Diversity in the Church

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Many today suppose that true unity comes through some sort of enforced uniformity. “If we bring people into the church who are just like us, then we will achieve unity.” But God designed the church completely different from that notion.

The body of Christ should function as one (Ephesians 4:1-5). Yet within that one body, God distributes gifts to each individual. So many different moving parts and yet unity? How does God accomplish that?

1. God accomplishes unity by a God-centered focus.
When we keep our eyes on Jesus and His work, we all pull in the same direction. It’s amazing how such diverse individuals can all pull together. Only God could accomplish that. The church cannot acquire unity by brow-beating everyone into one culture. The church acquires unity by obeying God’s Word and doing His will. Paul wrote about this to the church at Philippi:

"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).

2. God accomplishes unity by using a willing people.
When people come from diverse backgrounds, how can they keep from butting heads? By eagerly pursuing God’s will. As we grow in the Lord, we will see the need of serving God by serving others. We do not need to find a purpose for the church since God spells that out in depth in the Bible. But, we do need to labor for a common goal: glorifying God by building up His church.

We need to jump in not just with our feet, but our heart, too. God uses willing people, those who eagerly seek to use their lives to make a difference.

3. God accomplishes unity through a holy people.
When Paul wrote of the church universal (comprised of all people who know Christ), he envisioned a godly people without spot or wrinkle:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

When Christ returns, He will transform us into His perfect people. Until then, we need to live lives that glorify Him and seek to live for Him. The road to ultimate unity can come from God alone, who uses a people eager to live for Him.

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