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A Call for Unity in Diversity

by Kristin Isaac

Unity in diversity. What does that even mean?  How can we get a group of diverse people together and worship as Christ wants us to?

This was an exercise I did in my twenties when one of our HR managers (from a Catholic background) approached me to start a prayer meeting during lunch hour once a week in our secular work environment.  Several ladies and men joined our group, NONE of us were from the same denominational background.  It was rich in prayer, love, sharing, and listening to our differences, but at the core, we all believed that Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life, and NO ONE comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6). 

I learned so much from this group of believers that when we later came back to Corrèze, in France, the first Bible study group my mom and I started was with another mother/daughter combo, who just happened to be very involved sisters in Christ serving in our local Catholic community.  We started with studying 1 John, then other books of the Bible. When we finally started studying The Amazing Collection (in French), our sharing time was incredible. We learned from each other, broke down our preconceived notions, and loved on one another as sisters in Christ. 

That group started me on a path of deeper service and learning in Scripture. We then went on to serve for four years with a great group of Christians in the Paris area, and there I learned even more of what it means to serve children and adults, once again from socio-cultural backgrounds different than mine. 

Three things I learned from these groups:

Jesus must be the centre of our focus – only Him and His Gospel (1 Tim 1:4). Stay on target; don’t get distracted by meaningless debate when living life with Christ is already difficult!

Lay ground rules. Focus on what you agree on, which is what is core to all denominational beliefs (as an example: the seven pillars of the Christian faith) and not on what is not agreed on (which is peripheral and divisive.) Try not to promote a religion or denominational structure, but rather focus on what God is teaching each person through His Word.

Everyone must be willing to set aside his or her preconceived notions to share and exchange ideas, thoughts, prayers and encouragements in faith.

Diversity is not bad; in fact, I believe that Paul addresses that issue in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.  Each body part is unique and necessary for the whole to function properly.  Verse 18 (NET) says, “But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided.” And later in verse 27 (NET), “Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it.”

God calls us to diversity, not sameness. He calls us to be renewed in Christ, and He placed each of us right where He wants us to be.  Accepting different opinions and being able to discuss those differences without fear of judgment is necessary for a cohesive group.  Asking the right questions and listening intentionally to one another is at the core of loving one another as Christ loved us.  Can there be different opinions? Absolutely. Can we disagree about issues that are not core to our faith in Christ? Yes.  Sometimes, we need to let go of the form or practices of religion to get back to the foundation of our beliefs.  We then realize that we have a lot more in common with each other than we expected.


So how do we live in unity in diversity?  We humble ourselves before the Lord and let Him be our guide. We trust Him to place the people we are to interact with who will encourage us to grow.  We learn from each other and question our beliefs to either strengthen those beliefs or change to become more Christlike.  We let the Holy Spirit guide our discussions and growth.  We trust that God does indeed have a plan for each of us, and it will differ from person to person, but ultimately He will be glorified.