Posts Tagged ‘unity within diversity’

Unity within diversity: Let the Church rise

August 29, 2017

Galatians 3--28

The emphasis of Verse of the Day for August 29, 2017 is on the Body of Christ, which is described in Galatians 3:28 in the Amplified Bible:

There is [now no distinction in regard to salvation] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you [who believe] are all one in Christ Jesus [no one can claim a spiritual superiority].

God, our Father, is one and all that He has created is an expression of oneness or unity regarding all of humanity:

Acts 17:26 (Holman Christian Standard):

From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live

The Church is the ultimate expression of oneness or unity of purpose, of unity within diversity and diversity within unity.

When the Church, the Body of Christ, those called out among Jews and Gentiles, emerged as a new entity on the Day of Pentecost, God provided an amazing display of diversity. When those who waited for the promise of the Father that Jesus Christ spoke of as he departed to heaven, a remarkable gathering of individuals came to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost:

Now there were then residing in Jerusalem Jews, devout and God-fearing men from every country under heaven (Acts 2:5).

Although God demonstrates diversity in all of His creation, He also desires a demonstration of unity within that diversity. The Church, the collective body of believers, who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and who endeavor to live out the precepts and principles of their faith also illustrate this concept. One of the terms used to describe this example of diversity is “the mystery,” a metaphor used to describe the union of Jew and Gentile into one new man, the Body of Jesus Christ, the quintessential example of unity within diversity.

The Scriptures reveal God’s desire for unity among believers, that there be no divisions, literally, no splits, breaches, or schisms, for we have been called in one body. Believers are to strive to remain unified within the Body of Christ: Instead of being divided, the body of believers is to be unified, “perfectly joined together,” a term derived from the Greek word meaning to repair, to mend, to reunite and make perfect what has been broken. We are familiar with the colloquial expression: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” The converse would also hold true: “If it’s broken, then fix it.” Certainly this would apply to the Body of Christ, which is to be unified and not fractured nor divided, just as the human body is designed to be whole. Ephesians 4:16 describes God’s divine design:

From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love.

The love of God is to be the hallmark that identifies believers, individually and corporately, as members of the Body of Christ. The love of God when activated and boldly demonstrated can be a life-changing force in any community.

Twelve years ago, almost to the day, Hurricane Katrina, one of the costliest natural disasters and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, ravaged New Orleans and other areas of the Gulf Coast.  At that time the Church came together not only to make a difference, but by their selfless acts of loving service, the Church became the difference in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Today, as Hurricane Matthew with its heavy rains and flooding continues to engulf Houston and other areas of Texas. Once again, the Church will rise to the occasion and be the life-transforming force that it was designed to be.

The video performed by Jonathan Stockstill, “Let the Church Rise,” displays a specific instance where the church rose to the occasion and made a significant difference in a disastrous situation. America, indeed, the whole world continues to be engulfed with endless challenges that seek to overwhelm us. During these trying times, once more, “Let the Church Rise.”

Unity in the One Body

August 29, 2016

Galatians 3--28

The emphasis of Verse of the Day for August 29, 2016 is on the Body of Christ, which is described in Galatians 3:28 in the Message Bible:

[In Christ’s Family] In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.

The verse is rendered this way in the Amplified Bible:

There is [now no distinction] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God is one, and all that He has created expresses oneness or unity, as Acts 17:26 reveals regarding all of humanity:

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

The Church is the ultimate expression of oneness or unity of purpose, of unity within diversity and diversity within unity

Ephesians Chapters 2 and 3 make known God’s intention regarding His Church, the Body of Christ. Ephesians 2:10 in the New Living Translation (NLT) indicates

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 3:10 in the New Living Translation also reveals what God had in mind:

10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

A previous blog post introduced an original poem that related my personal understanding of my role in the Body of Christ. The two verses from Ephesians also reminded me an experience that occurred when my wife and I visited family and friends in San Francisco and Los Angeles a few years ago. During our stay in the City by the Bay, we enjoyed a most enlightening experience at the Asian Museum where we saw a special exhibit from the Ming Dynasty. One of the pieces on display was a stationery box which is similar to the one shown below. Although the final product reveals what the designer had in mind, we do not see how the object looked at the various stages of development. So it is with the Church, the Body of Christ, which is made reference to in the Book of Ephesians, especially in Chapters 2 and 3. The Church, as such, is still a work in progress, but I believe that God is putting “the finishing touches on His crowning achievement.”  The poem “Exquisite Exhibit” conveys in part my thoughts regarding the Church and my role in this amazing masterpiece of God’s creation.

Exquisite Exhibit

Viewing a Ryoshi-bako (stationery box)

Power and Glory: Court Arts of China’s Ming Dynasty

Asian Museum–San Francisco, California

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew

in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things

 he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

 

God’s purpose was to show his wisdom in all its rich variety

to all the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.

They will see this when Jews and Gentiles

are joined together in his church.  

Ephesians 3:10

Sublime thoughts never diminish, only increase,

As I marvel at this ancient masterpiece.

The designer sees the end long before he starts

And envisions intricate details of the parts

And fashions a wood box inlaid with jade and gold,

Lacquered vessel for deepest thoughts the mind can hold.

Beyond all that I see, God formed and fashioned me

With precise measure of each scroll and filigree.

Displayed by the skillful hands of the Master craftsman,

Beyond the finest design of any artisan,

The Church, exquisite exhibit now on display,

Treasures from the hand of God take one’s breath away.

With the eyes of our heart now opened, we find

We are the masterpiece Jehovah had in mind.

 

ryoshi-bako

This ryoshi-bako or stationery box is similar to the one that inspired the poem that draws a parallel with God’s masterpiece, the Church.

A number of years ago I hosted a radio show “Poetry and Praise,” and I would close each show with this reference to Ephesians 2:10:

Every day of our lives we recognize and celebrate the truth that as born-again believers we are all new creations in Christ, and we praise God that He has given us all things richly to enjoy. Indeed, “. . . we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The word “workmanship” is translated from the Greek word poiema, which means “masterpiece, a glorious creation, a centerpiece of attention, as the French would say, le piece de resistance, or showpiece.” Of course, the Greek word poiema is transliterated into our English word poem, which in the minds of many people, certainly present company included, is always a “masterpiece” or glorious creation. So that the people of God represent the real poetry of life, for which we praise God. Yes, each of us is a poem, or God’s handiwork or workmanship, a special work created by God that we should be to the praise of His glory….

To conclude our discussion on unity within the One Body, Tommy Walker offers this heartfelt request in song: “Make Us One”:

 

 

All one in Christ Jesus

January 12, 2016

Galatians-3-26

Revised and re-posted from a year ago, the following blog entry on the Verse of the Day for January 12, 2016 focuses on the Church, the Body of Christ, which is described in Galatians 3:26-28 in the New Living Testament:

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God is very concerned about diversity, not only in nature and in other features of the universe but in every aspect of life, particularly among people. Acts 17:26 also makes known that God “. . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; Holman Christian Standard renders the verse this way:

From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.

When the Church emerged as a new entity on the Day of Pentecost, God provided an amazing display of diversity. When those who waited for the promise of the Father that Jesus Christ spoke of as he departed to heaven, there was an amazing gathering of individuals who came to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost:

Now there were then residing in Jerusalem Jews, devout and God-fearing men from every country under heaven (Acts 2:5).

Although God demonstrates diversity in all of His creation, He also desires a demonstration of unity within that diversity. The Church, the collective body of believers, all those who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and who endeavor live out the precepts and principles of their faith also provide an illustration of unity within diversity. One of the terms used to describe this example of diversity is “the mystery,” a metaphor used to describe the union of Jew and Gentile into one new man, the Body of Jesus Christ, the quintessential example of unity within diversity.

Paul speaks of “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Paul was the first to receive an understanding of this concept which was later more fully revealed in Ephesians and elsewhere in the Scriptures. As believers we endeavor to synchronize our desire to comprehend to a greater degree the mystery of the one body with God’s desire to show teach us, as expressed in this poem:

Oh, To See the Mystery
Ephesians 3

Enlighten our eyes that we might openly see;
Expand our minds and widen our comprehension
To understand the temple of the mystery.
Teach us to fully comprehend each dimension
And ascertain the magnitude without measure:

Reveal to us the true length,
though it is endless;
Teach us to find the full breadth,
though it is boundless;
Help us to reach the vast height,
though it is measureless;
Teach us to probe the great depth,
though it is fathomless.

Show us your divine design for the inner man.
Make plain the purpose, the pattern, the symmetry
Unfolded in the blueprints of your master plan
For the One Body, temple of awesome beauty.
Share with us the value of this priceless treasure,
Held in the secret places of your good pleasure.
Show us the riches of the glory of this mystery
Which is Christ in each of us, the hope of glory.

The Church is the ultimate expression of oneness or unity of purpose, of unity within diversity.

Frontline Music offers Galatians Meditations that focus on Galatians 3:24-28

Oh, to see the mystery

January 12, 2015

Galatians-3-26

The Verses of the Day for January 12, 2015 focus on the Church, the Body of Christ, which is described in Galatians 3:26-28 in the New Living Testament:

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God is very concerned about diversity, not only in nature and in other features of the universe but in every aspect of life, particularly among people. Acts 17:26 also makes known that God “. . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

Holman Christian Standard renders the verse this way:

From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.

When the Church emerged as a new entity on the Day of Pentecost, God provided an amazing display of diversity. When those who waited for the promise of the Father that Jesus Christ spoke of as he departed to heaven, there was an amazing gathering of individuals who came to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost:

Now there were then residing in Jerusalem Jews, devout and God-fearing men from every country under heaven (Acts 2:5).

Although God demonstrates diversity in all of His creation, He also desires a demonstration of unity within that diversity. The Church, the collective body of believers, who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and who endeavor live out the precepts and principles of their faith are also an illustration of unity within diversity. One of the terms used to describe this example of diversity is “the mystery,” a metaphor used to describe the union of Jew and Gentile into one new man, the Body of Jesus Christ, the quintessential example of unity within diversity.

Paul speaks of “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Paul was the first to receive an understanding of this concept which was later more fully revealed in Ephesians and elsewhere in the Scriptures. As believers we endeavor to synchronize our desire to comprehend to a greater degree the mystery of the one body with God’s desire to show us and teach us, as expressed in this poem:

Oh, To See the Mystery

Ephesians 3

Enlighten our eyes that we might openly see;

Expand our minds and widen our comprehension

To understand the temple of the mystery.

Teach us to fully comprehend each dimension

And ascertain the magnitude without measure:

Reveal to us the true length,

though it is endless;

Teach us to find the full breadth,

though it is boundless;

Help us to reach the vast height,

though it is measureless;

Teach us to probe the great depth,

though it is fathomless.

Show us your divine design for the inner man.

Make plain the purpose, the pattern, the symmetry

Unfolded in the blueprints of your master plan

For the One Body, temple of awesome beauty.

Share with us the value of this priceless treasure,

Held in the secret places of your good pleasure.

Show us the riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in each of us, the hope of glory.

 

The Church is the ultimate expression of oneness or unity of purpose, of unity within diversity.

Listen to and take a look at musical rendering of Galatians 3:27-28 called “As Many of You” which is also expressed in sign language.