April 5, Tuesday

Cami KingEditor’s Note:  The AMI QT devotionals from April 4-10 are provided by Cami King.  Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is about to complete her M.Div. at Gordon Conwell Seminary.  She is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh. 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Acts 15:6-9

The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 

Author and apologist Ravi Zacharias talks often about the human quest for unity in the face of so many differences. The very term university, he says, derives from the search to find unity within diversity (according to the word’s etymological origins). For generations we’ve wondered how we can be united with those different from us – is that kind of unity even possible? Whether it’s ethnic lines, gender lines, age difference, personality types, experiences, the list goes on, we find ourselves miles away from the people around us, especially in the West and in our present age where travel and communication are almost instant. We can be so close, and yet feel worlds apart from one another.

So how do we go about forging these relationships across our many lines of difference? How do we actually experience unity in the face of diversity? Historically, we’ve connected ourselves based on similarities. The dominant group usually sets the tone that others simply follow or mimic – this is called assimilation. The other groups simply become like the dominant group and, therefore, connections can be made based on similarities. When the Gentiles became Christians, the people of God faced a cultural clash never before experienced within their faith community. Prior to this they all shared not only their faith, but their culture (for the most part) with similar moral values and ways of doing life. So how were the Gentiles to be brought in? By becoming culturally Jewish? The Pharisees certainly thought so.

Our passage for today teaches us that God brings about a different kind of unity. The body of Christ is not united by doing the same things, or by being the same kind of people, or even by having the same backgrounds and histories. Instead, Christ’s body is united by housing the same Spirit. It’s God’s Spirit that makes us one, even in the midst of such diverse cultural (and otherwise) backgrounds. This is an amazing concept! As we place our faith in Christ and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, we find ourselves connected to people we’d never have imagined. And thus we begin to experience the beauty of the tapestry that is the Kingdom of God.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Holy Spirit which not only unites me with You but with my brothers and sister in Christ. Help me to see beyond my own context and to embrace those different from me who You’ve also called into your family. May I experience today the beauty of the unity with those different from me that comes only through a shared Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Proverbs 24

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Lunch Break Study

1 Corinthians 12:12-20, 27

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  

Questions to Consider:

  1. What does Paul say unites all believers?
  2. How does the analogy of a body with many parts help you to appreciate the unity in diversity of the Kingdom of God? Why is it important for all our many differences to be at work together?
  3. How do Paul’s words challenge you to see your brothers and sisters in Christ who may be different from you in various ways?

Notes:

  1. All believers are united by the Holy Spirit having been baptized into one body by one Spirit.
  2. The body needs all kinds of parts to function as a whole. The various functions of our different organs working together to keep the whole body alive and functioning paints a beautiful picture of the various people in the family of God at work together in their differences to build the Kingdom of God. Oftentimes, our very differences are what enable us to make valuable contributions to the whole. If everyone were exactly the same (if we were all an eye, for example), we would not have a body (just an eye).
  3. Spend time in personal reflection.

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Evening Reflection

In a service at a local divinity school that I attended recently, I was challenged to think of the things that made me different as an appointment, rather than an accident. What I took from the speaker’s words was that I have a choice – instead of forgetting about who I am based on my experiences in the world (both good and bad) in order to blend in, I can offer those to God and see how He might use them to be a blessing. Forgetting, ignoring, or hiding our differences is not what unites us; it’s the Holy Spirit at work in the midst of those differences that brings true unity. How are you different from those around you? What are your unique giftings, experiences, identity, perspectives, etc. that God can use to bless others? Spend some time reflecting on these things with the Lord.

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