The Spirit Filled Life: Unity in Diversity
The Holy Spirit brings unity in diversity, breaking down barriers that often divide us, and drawing us together as one family, united through our relationship to Jesus. But although it is the Spirit who unites us, we need to ‘make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace’ (Ephesians 4:3).
This week’s sermon only scratched the surface of a hugely important theme. To think more about it, you may want to join us for A Conversation on Race on Monday 22nd March, and also read our Celebrating Diversity page, where we talk about some of the ways we are seeking to learn and grow in this area. There are also some recommended resources to help you think about this subject personally, and discuss it in Connect Groups.
This is a practice to help you reflect personally, and in the presence of God, about where the Spirit is asking you to partner with him in keeping unity. Read Psalm 133, and then take 15 minutes to reflect by yourself, perhaps with your screen turned off, and with music on if you would like. And then take another 15 minutes to share your reflections in pairs or threes.
Note to Leaders: For some groups, this may be the first time you have discussed the subject of race, whereas for others, this may have been something you have already talked about at length. Think about how to use this resource in the way that would be most appropriate for your group. It may be that you want to increase the discussion time, or you may choose to continue this discussion in future weeks, by working through some of the recommended resources. Please be particularly aware of people for whom this is a painful subject, and make sure you signpost support for them in processing hurt, forgiving others, or seeking forgiveness.
Awareness (5 mins)
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any attitudes you hold, which are not in line with his heart, and any ways you have failed to treat others with dignity, love and respect. Write down any thoughts he brings to mind.
If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable or defensive, ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern what he is wanting to show you. And remember that the he only highlights these things in our lives so he can lead us to freedom, through repentance and change.
Read back over your thoughts, and confess to God anything you have become aware of, asking for His forgiveness. Remember, ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9)
Relationship (5 mins)
Ask the Holy Spirit some of the following questions, and write down any thoughts he brings to mind.
- Are there any relationships where I am not in unity, right now? What should I do about that?
- Are there any people I have not taken the time to get to know, who I should speak to this week?
- Are there any people I have held back from sharing my story with, who I should reach out to?
- Are there people I struggle with, and what can I do to improve my relationship with them?
- Are there any people around me who are easily forgotten and neglected, and to whom I should reach out?
Pray for your relationships, asking that you would know the oil of God’s blessing upon you (Psalm 133).
Commitment (5 mins)
In the light of your previous reflections, ask the Holy Spirit to help you commit to the work of maintaining unity. Ask him to reveal to you the next steps he wants you to take:
- Is there anything you need to confess and talk through with a trusted friend?
- Is there anyone you need to confess to, or seek forgiveness from?
- Is there anyone you need to speak to about ways they have hurt you? And how should you do that in a healthy way that leads to healing and unity?
- Are there particular things you need to think about, read, listen to as a next step?
- Are there any things we should do to make our Connect Group, friendship group, or service a more diverse and inclusive place?
- Are there ways you want me to use my time to serve others?
- Are there ways you want me to use my energy to serve others?
- Are there ways you want me to use my resources to serve others?
Some of these things may be painful or difficult to deal with, particularly to do with confession, forgiveness and reconciliation. If you find that the Holy Spirit reveals any painful or difficult things to you, and if you need help knowing how to apply them, please do speak to a trusted friend, or a member of the Pastoral Support Team. You can email them on [email protected].
Discussion (15 mins)
Take a few minutes to discuss anything God has particularly brought to mind through this exercise. There is no pressure to share things that are too personal or difficult. Perhaps focus on practical steps God is prompting you to take, and maybe limit yourself to each person sharing one thing.
Depending on the size of your group, and how well you know each other, you may want to have this discussion all together, or in small groups of 2-3 people.
Would you empower us to keep the unity you have created,
And anoint us to continue your work,
Of reconciling this world to you.
As we seek to live in your unity,
Would your presence, like oil,
Cleanse us from all unrighteousness,
Heal our wounds and hurts,
And cause us to shine,
As a witness to the power of your gospel,
And your plan to unite in yourself,
All things in heaven and on earth.