Unity In Diversity
Help me, Heavenly Father, to work for that unity among all Christians for which Jesus prayed.
Read Acts 15:22-35
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“I pray…that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You” (John 17:20,21).
What we have here in Acts is probably a summary of a long discussion that was difficult and, no doubt, at times heated. However, the outcome was an apparently unanimous decision (22) to affirm the freedom of Gentile believers to follow Christ within their cultural situation, without the need to adopt Jewish practices. The letter was designed to secure the unity of the followers of Jesus, transcending cultural differences. It was endorsed by “the whole church” (22) and received with joy by the new Christians in Antioch (31).
The implications are momentous because the decision recognizes that Christ can be known and followed in different ways as the gospel penetrates different social and cultural worlds. Scholars have called this a “valid cultural pluralism” so that Christ becomes the Savior of all peoples and frees them to follow him within their situations. The action taken at Jerusalem was designed to ensure that the unity of the Christian movement would be maintained across the differences of culture. Thus, the dangers of isolation and division would be avoided and the world might witness the emergence of a new kind of human family.
In the twenty-first century, we have become more aware of cultural differences as globalization has resulted in movement of peoples around the globe and mixing of nationalities within many great cities. This offers Christians an opportunity to demonstrate the extraordinary unity in diversity which flows from the knowledge of Jesus. Will we take seriously the decision made at Jerusalem, recognizing the freedom of fellow believers to follow Jesus within their cultural worlds, while affirming together that, at the deepest level, we belong to each other as the one family of God?
Pray that unity in diversity may be discovered and expressed between all Christians today. How can you promote it within your church and community?
Lord, I pray that I may be a peacemaker in my relationships. Give me discernment that I may bring reconciliation and unity where there is now conflict.