True Unity in Small Groups

True Unity in Small Groups

Diversity makes our unity stronger—but we have to work for it.
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  • The truth is spoken in love for the purpose of building one another up.

Diversity in the Bible

As Christians, we’re also commanded to diversify. In the Great Commission, Jesus calls his followers to make disciples of “all nations.” John, in the book of Revelation, sees people “from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9). And James 2 reminds us not to make distinctions between rich and poor in our assemblies. There are countless more examples that epitomize a Christian worldview focused on inclusion and variety.

Remember that verse about God knitting you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139)? The psalmist draws the comparison to this slow, methodical, and individual practice of how God made you. We are not mass-produced, but instead we are all made uniquely and individually—and that’s a good thing.

Forging Unity Through Diversity

So, how can our groups be unified and diverse at the same time? We can picture the unity of a group and the variety of those who belong as two sides on a continuum. While it’s very easy to slide to one side and lose touch with the other, it’s very possible to have both. We just need to be purposeful and hold some tensions.

In Romans 12:12–31, Paul draws a comparison between the body of believers and the human body. While each member is completely distinct and different, at the end of the day we all belong to the same body.

Why is it that the picture of a foot having comparison issues with a hand strikes us as absurd, but people comparing themselves to one another in the church or in our groups is a common experience? Why does an eye saying to a hand, “I don’t need you!” seem silly, but we do the same things with our thoughts, words, and actions to one another in our very own communities of believers?

Paul reminds us that even though we’re different, we belong to one another, and ultimately we belong to Christ. If we really take this seriously, it changes the way we treat one another. Just like different members of the same human body we communicate, support, and take care of one another as if our lives depend on it.

Consider How This is Already Happening

The Great Commission compels us to reach outside of ourselves while the body of Christ compels us to have shared life and mission under the banner of Christ. These are lofty tasks and it can seem intimidating to drive for both in a group setting.

The reality is that you’re already doing this in many ways. I volunteered at a local organization for a while that put volunteers in consistent work groups. One weekend I stopped for a moment to realize that my work group consisted of a middle aged Jewish woman, a corporate real estate executive, a 20-something Latino student, a 30-something from China on a work visa, and a practicing Muslim. It sounds like the setup for a joke, right?

To tell you the truth, I hadn’t thought twice about it up to this point. We had a task at hand, and we were all working toward it. We had shared value in the completion of the project, and we were unified in completing it. It made the differences between us suddenly less important.

A strong bond of unity was formed because of manmade tasks and values. Consider the strength of the bond that is available to us when we connect around God’s values and mission.

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