This week, guest speaker, Tom Lancaster brings the word to ABC.

Beginning his sermon, he looked at 1 Corinthians 12:1-4, which talks about spiritual gifts. There are a number of these gifts, and while some people may be called to prophecy, others may be called to healing, and so on.

We are all different, but the thing is, God doesn’t discriminate because of our culture, race, or history. God has arranged all parts of ‘the body’ exactly where they are for a specific purpose. We are many parts of the same body, and this is exactly how God intended it to be.

When people come together, in marriage, for example, they can come with different backgrounds, and ideas of how things should be. There are certain things that we can do when we’re single, that we can’t do when you’re together with others. In these situations, we have to compromise.

We must practice tolerance; this is, an objective point of view to someone else’s differences. Tolerance is a requirement in any relationship, and in any relationship, there is the potential for tension. Whenever we come together as a ‘team’, there can be tension. It is up to us to learn to balance things out.

Sometimes, we can experience cognitive dissonance, which is a frustration in the mind between where we are, and where we want to be. What we need to do here, is make sure that we are tuning into the right frequency, so that we can listen to God. He is constantly calling us to greater things, and when we encounter these issues, we must look at them, not as a problem to solve, but as a tension to manage.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he picks four concerns, all of which, takes their solution from the Gospel. He deals with division in the Church, and talks about unity, reminding them that “we’re all in this together”.

Whatever we face, there is a solution from the Gospel.

Tom then said that he wanted to bring to us four points: The four foundations of unity.

  • We all serve the same God.

We all serve the same God. He gave us all freedom. We just need to realise this, and get back to the foundations.

  • We depend on the same God.

He is the one who brings healing and restoration, to all of us. We all pray to Him. He is the same God that we speak to and communicate with.

  • We all serve the same purpose.

We all have the same end-goal, regardless of our culture and background. We are all In it together, and we are called to fire each other up, and to support each other, in order that we can contribute to God’s purpose.

  • We belong to the same body.

We may have different styles, and opinions, but we are in this together. There is no need for separation, but we are called to let our differences compliment each other, as we move forward to fulfil the purpose of God.

The question then, is what do we do with our differences?

Paul laid the foundations, but we also need pillars if a building is to remain upright.

Having said this, Tom brought us the three pillars of diversity.

  • Diversity is necessary.

We must celebrate our differences. We need lots of different people, with lots of different abilities in order to follow the will and purpose of God.

  • Diversity breeds unity.

We are called to not define ourselves by our differences. When God made us, He gave us only one division – that of ‘man’, and ‘woman’. Our diversities aren’t meant to divide us, but to allow us to unite as one body, moving forward for the will of God. We must celebrate our differences.

  • We’re diverse, but not divided.

We must all come together to build ‘the body’, and work with our differences for the good of God.

Tom also told us that love is an essential component of unity. Love looks beyond faults, and failings. It enables us to tolerate. We can choose to love each other through it all. We just need to add love, and in doing so, this will add maturity.

We are all the same, but we are all different. The truth is that every encounter requires change.

John 17:20-23 shows that if we refuse to become divided, and we practice unity, then the world will see it, and if they see it, they will see God in our actions. They’ll believe just simply because we decide to do life together. We are all vastly different, but if we add a little tolerance, and inject some love, then we can show the world what unity in Christ is all about.

In Matthew 5:14-16, we see that we are built to be together. God wants us to be together. It is a subtle trick of the enemy to make us believe that we should do life separately.

God has called us to those people that we want to push away and not associate with, but He tells us that it is our job to love them. We must be tolerant of people regardless of their differences, and welcome them into the house.

We must pray for restoration, and create an action point. We must always be looking for the next step that God has in mind for us.

Can we say to those people, “this family is your family”?

Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 12:14, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 1 Corinthians 12:15-18, John 17:20-23, Matthew 5:14-16

We’re Different But The Same by Tom Lancaster