Different but Unified
This is the time of year when local gardeners start to harvest their late summer tomatoes. I’m still a novice tomato grower, but I recently pulled quite a few off the plants. One of the interesting things about tomatoes is that they’re all different. At least to my untrained eyes, no two look the same. They are different shapes. They are different sizes. They are even different colors.
This is the way that God has made the world. Whether it is eggs or eggplant, no two things are exactly the same. Even within the same species of animal, there is great diversity. Two pups of the same litter can be remarkably different. Some of us even know twins who are radically different in many ways.
How much more so is this the case with one another? Take a moment to consider the ways in which we are all different. We are different in height, weight, skin complexion, age, and the list could go on and on. Even beyond our physical appearance, we have different life experiences, interests, temperaments, etc.
However, something can be different, but in essence, still be of the same kind. Two tomatoes might look quite unalike, but they are still two tomatoes. In a somewhat similar vein, although far more important, two faithful Christians might be quite different. But they are still two faithful Christians.
This is really the point of Ephesians 4. The church is very diverse. Yet, in all its diversity, it is to be unified. The recipients of the letter of Ephesians are to be “bearing with one another” (Ephesians 4:2). This being the case, they are reminded of seven things around which they are to be unified. Ephesians 4:4-6 contains seven ones. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
What then is the goal of unity? That is a question that seldom gets asked. Why should we want to be unified? Is it because unity sounds nice? Is it because unity makes us feel good? In Ephesians 4, the reason we should want to attain unity is the following: “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). When we are unified, it is far less likely that we will be tricked and deceived. We have each other to help, encourage, and counsel in the ways of truth.
At first glance, things might appear very different, but there is often more in common than we realize. When we are tempted to focus on our differences, remember the ones of Ephesians 4—we are of the same body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God and Father.