Sunday, August 24, 2008

Diversity With Unity

In the Wednesday night Bible study we have been going through First Corinthians verse by verse. This week we recorded the 40th message and finished chapter 12. The theme of First Corinthians 12-14 is spiritual gifts but Paul focuses on encouraging diversity while maintaining unity. Reading through these chapters we see Paul instructing the Corinthians to pursue and develop the wide variety of gifts that are available, but at the same time stressing the importance of unity. Each gift has the same source (God) and purpose (the common good).

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.
There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
There are different kinds of working, but the same God
works all of them in all men.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

Paul uses the image of the human body which “is not made up of one part but of many.” (12:14) Our body is made up of many, many parts. But as Paul says, “though all its parts are many, they form one body.” (12:12)

Diversity with unity is the goal. Diversity simply for the sake of being different is pointless and distracting. Diversity without a common goal or a focused purpose can become destructive. Our human body functions because all the diverse parts work together on whatever goal is set before it. When the body runs, all the parts contribute in their diverse way. When the body sleeps they all have to unite in the process.

How worthless would our body be if all we had for a body were a mouth or many mouths? This body would be lacking diversity. But, what if we had a wide range of diversity in parts but had no unity. In this case the foot would walk away, while the stomach stayed at the table and the head slept on the couch? In this case the benefits of diversity where lost due to the lack of unity of purpose.

Our bodies, our families, our churches and our nation thrive when there is diversity with unity. But, each is destroyed if those diverse parts are encouraged to be diverse with no concern for unity.

God designed diversity to serve the common goal. He did not design diversity to serve itself. So much of what is called diversity today has no benefit for the common good. With all the talk of diversity we should, like our bodies, only accept the diversity that empowers the common goal of the church or the nation.

Diversity that is self-serving is a cancer.

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