How Differences Help Us Grow

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.”—1 Corinthians 12:12–14 (NIV emphasis added)

The Book of Nehemiah is a great story about the separated and defeated people of God rebuilding their city. After having been scattered and in captivity for many years, those living in Jerusalem and those who had returned sent word to Nehemiah, who was serving as cupbearer for King Artaxerxes II of Persia, telling him of the ruined state of their city and people. Upon hearing this, Nehemiah (a picture of Christ) travels to Jerusalem and gathers the people, uniting them once again with a shared mission of rebuilding the walls of their broken city. 

It took them 52 days to build the wall and gates surrounding Jerusalem. Each person had their own assignment, perhaps based on skill or even just availability. Every person contributed something to the overall unification of the city.

Today, we might not be building anything literally like they did in Nehemiah’s day, but we are striving to build up the Church. Over the years, I can’t help but notice that the Church has become just as divided and scattered as we see in the first chapter of Nehemiah. There are some who believe this and others who believe that, and instead of recognizing we are each still called to the same mission, we let these differences provide opportunity for separation. 

Instead of working together to build up the Church, we allow external circumstances and internal strife keep us distracted and ineffective at making disciples. This is why the fact that we’ve been “baptized by one Spirit” is so important. This is something we should really pause and reflect on! In the same way that God is three persons in one, each operating in different roles, and in the same way the human body consists of different parts working together, God has His children to be one body with one accord by baptizing us all into one Spirit.

In Philippians 2:1–2 (NIV) it says, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” 

Instead of letting differences divide us, we must find ways that the differences can catapult us towards greater growth . . .  just like in the Book of Nehemiah where each person worked faithfully in the role God called them to carry out together. Let us work as unto the Lord in unity for the advancement of the gospel and the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

DIG: Read Romans 12 (more specifically 3–8), Colossians 3:14–15, and 1 Peter 3:8.

DISCOVER: What are areas where you see division in your local church body? Are there opportunities where you can offer encouragement towards unity? Are there ways your actions are causing division or separation instead of unity?

DO: Instead of letting differences separate, find ways where you can learn from or work alongside people for a common goal. We can learn a lot from those that think differently than us!