Unity and Diversity
Open Your Bible
Ephesians 4:1-16, Philippians 1:27, Romans 12:1-2, 1 Corinthians 12:4-13
BY Missy Fuller
I’m a beach girl. I love the sun, the sand, the surf—everything. I can’t get enough. Recently, my brother moved to Jacksonville, Florida, and I’ve had the privilege of free beach vacations the last few years. Yes, please!
While visiting my brother this past summer there was a tropical storm about 200 miles off the coast. Those were some of the biggest and most consistent waves I’ve ever seen.
My brother ran through the water and easily made it out to a calm sandbar. As I tried get out past the breaking point, the waves continually knocked me backwards, sideways, and underwater. Just when I made a little progress, an enormous swell came into view. In an effort to hit it head-on, I started running toward it, jumping forward and diving into the wave.
As the wave rolled over, it rolled me right along with it. Suddenly, I was somersaulting underneath the wave, no control over my body and no idea which way was up. I finally found my footing and came up from under the water. But as soon as I took a breath, another wave knocked me off my feet and pushed me even closer to shore.
Needless to say, I waved to my brother and went back to our towels. This was definitely a tanning day.
That feeling of no control, of not knowing if you’ll ever surface, doesn’t just happen in the water and the waves. It’s one we can experience spiritually, too. If we remain immature in our faith, we can easily be tossed back and forth by the craftiness, manipulation, and deceit of false teachers.
So how do we guard against this? According to Paul, our spiritual gifts play a huge role.
Christ grants each believer unique gifts in order to serve the body of Christ. We are all created differently and given different gifts by our Creator, so that together we can work to reach unity in the faith and in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ. In Christ, our diversity is an asset and, ultimately, a peace-maker.
Christ’s design for spiritual gifts is to build up His Bride, the Church. The goal is for the body of Christ—the whole body— to reach maturity. Using our gifts in the right context, with a humble and willing heart, builds us up individually and collectively. It builds up the whole body of believers.
This is what Paul urges of the Ephesians: in order for the body to reach maturity, we must fully embrace the unity to which Christ has called us. His desire is for us to function as one, not function alone.
I love Paul’s words in Philippians 1:27 which echo this calling, charging us to live in “a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” We are to stand firm with one mind and spirit, guarding each other, using our unique gifts, and working side by side as we advance the gospel.
In this way, Christ’s Bride will be presented, fully mature and unified, on the day of glory.