Being unified as a church doesn’t mean we all believe exactly the same on every aspect of every issue. Unity happens when diverse people believe in the same unchanging gospel of salvation.
Whiteboard with markers; building blocks, Legos or Lincoln Logs; paper and pencils
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- Draw a circle in the middle of the whiteboard. For each member, draw a line from the circle and draw a box. Have each member write inside the box some facts that make him or her unique: heritage, birthplace, education, job, etc. Stand back and look at the diversity. Does all this diversity limit how close your group can be?
- See how tall a tower you can build with building blocks, Legos, or Lincoln Logs. Here’s the catch: You must work together as a group by not putting pieces where you want them but by following advice from others. Afterward, discuss what it was like to work as a team.
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- In the Jewish culture of Paul’s day, circumcision was the deciding factor of a man’s faith. Are there beliefs or actions that we claim are deciding factors today?
- Thought Questions
Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. Is there ever a time when it is permissible to not be unified within the church?
- Yes, when I know I’m right but can’t get someone else to see it my way.
- Yes, if someone else is clearly going against God’s Word.
- Yes, when it is impossible for people of different cultures, genders, and ages to agree.
- No, Paul says to be “perfectly united.”
- No, because if Christ isn’t divided, then Christ’s followers shouldn’t be divided either.
- Not buying or selling on Sabbath
- Not wearing jewelry
- Being baptized by immersion
- Abstinence from eating or drinking anything that could harm our health
- Believing in the gift of prophecy
Read Galatians 2:1-10. What “freedom” do we have in Christ?
- Freedom to know without a doubt that we are saved
- Freedom to reject God if we choose
- Freedom to worship in whatever manner we choose—even if it’s outside another person’s comfort zone
- Freedom from the guilt and shame of sin
- Freedom to act as we please because we know that we can receive forgiveness
- At a bar, trying to help a depressed man who just lost his job
- At a jail, talking to a teen who was caught buying drugs
- At a coffee shop on Sabbath, visiting with a discouraged mom
- Inside an abortion clinic, helping a teenage girl sort through her options
- At a club, inviting a woman who works there to your Bible study group
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to your group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: You’re the chair of the church board. At tonight’s meeting you’ll be discussing the possibility of adding guitars and drums to the church worship service. Your church is divided on this issue. What steps would you take to help bring unity?
- Option 2: An elderly woman comes to you; she is appalled because a younger woman who was helping with the worship service wore a necklace and earrings. What would you say to help her see the bigger, more important issue here?
- Option 3: At the church potluck, some at your table are criticizing the pastor for preaching “too much grace.” They feel that he or she needs to preach more about the law and obedience. Should you keep quiet and just listen? If you speak, what should you say?
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- Is there an issue in your church that is keeping it from being unified? Ask yourself, “Am I part of the problem or part of the solution?” If you’re part of the problem, how can you change? If you’re part of the solution, how can you help?
- Do you find yourself only associating with “the saved”? Do you tend to shun those who aren’t living right? Consider Jesus’ life. Jesus showed love to all humans and was criticized for sharing a meal with sinners. Decide to begin following Jesus’ example today.