Is There Unity in Diversity?
Text: Romans 12:3-16
I. You find the motto of the United States in many places, “e pluribus unum,” “from many, one”
A. It describes the sentiment that people from all over the world can come, settle here, make a life for themselves, and be united with all other citizens.
B. Or described as a great melting pot
1. "What then is the American, this new man?" that the American is one who "leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world." Michel Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur in Letters from an American Farmer (1782).
C. Recently, though, is a strong movement to celebrate our differences. No longer is the emphasis in blending cultures to forge a new one, but see each culture as different.
1. “Embrace Diversity”
2. “Celebrate Our Differences”
D. It makes you wonder if no one remembers Christ’s words - Mark 3:25
E. Society’s views become reflected in religions
1. To express disagreement with another person’s view of religion is now called judgmental and sinful.
2. If a person practices a sexual sin, we cannot speak out against it.
a. Already some are taken to court for saying that homosexuality is a sin
b. Pressure is mounting to allow homosexual members and have them in the leadership
II. A plea for unity
A. Jesus laid down the principle of unity - John 17:20-21
B. Early Christians came from diverse backgrounds
1. The distinction between Jew and Gentile was huge.
2. Here were people who from birth disdained each other, looked down on each other, and lived in suspicion of each other.
3. Yet, they were baptized and accepted the will of the same Father.
C. How successful would the early church have been if they retained their prejudices and differences?
D. It can be done. Consider marriage
1. One man and one woman become one flesh - Genesis 2:24
2. The success of the marriage depends on their ability to overcome their differences (and they can be significant) and learn to surrender their individuality.
3. When two people insist on retaining their individual identities, and focus solely one their personal wants, the marriage, though legally joined, dissolves into dysfunction.
III. Christians have their differences
A. They come from different backgrounds: family, nationality, religious beliefs, and social status.
B. They have different talents - Romans 12:6-8
C. They function in different ways - I Corinthians 12:14-19
D. If I left it there you would think that God wanted diversity alone in His church
E. But Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 are passages teaching unity
1. Romans 12:3-5 - Many members with different functions, but existing in one body.
2. I Corinthians 12:12-13, 20, 26 - Each member is an individual member of a whole.
F. Again considering marriage, we see the same.
1. A man and woman become husband and wife.
2. Together they form a single whole, but each brings different abilities to the union to the benefit of both.
IV. How is unity achieved?
A. Submission by all to something greater than any one part
1. Have the same goals - I Corinthians 1:10
2. Drink of the same Spirit - I Corinthians 12:13
3. Using the same standard - Romans 12:9
B. Concern for all other parts
1. Devoted to each other - Romans 12:10, 13, 15
2. Shared concerns and joys - I Corinthians 12:26
C. Acceptance of all other parts
1. Unity is not found in insisting that every member be exactly alike in all things
2. All members do not have the same function - Romans 12:4
3. We are to have the same mind toward each other - Romans 12:16
a. The idea is to treat all brethren as equals - I Peter 3:8
b. Even though everyone might not take a noticeable role - I Corinthians 12:22-25
D. We are to strive for peace - Romans 12:18
1. Showing forbearance - Ephesians 4:1-3
2. Unity doesn’t happen without effort - James 3:16-18
E. A willingness to yield - “Easily entreated” in James 3:17
1. It doesn’t have to go my way
2. Not the idea that we give into sin, then we would be leaving our single standard
3. But God hasn’t fixed everything and we can use that freedom to work together - I Corinthians 9:20-22
F. Work together
1. Use our abilities with our best effort - Romans 12:6-8, 11-12
2. We need to realize our need for other talents - I Corinthians 12:15-19
V. A blending despite our differences
A. There is no emphasis on the differences, though some exist
B. The focus is on the harmonizing of the individuals into a whole - Galatians 3:26-29
C. No matter your background, social status, gender, religion, or past sins you have struggled with, you can become a part of the body of Christ.
D. Will you not join us today?