Diversity within Unity

Oct 6, 2023 | Articles

In America, our differences have become a point of division and conflict. We hang with people who think like us, look like us, and share our interests. The people who don’t fit in, we relegate to the side. 

But, as followers of Christ, is that really what we’re supposed to do? 

When we dig into Scripture, we see that God wants us to perceive diversity within the unity in Christ.

In Acts 13:1 (NIV), we’re given the names of several members of the early church: “Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.

Just who are they? Montgomery Boyce breaks it down for us: Barnabas is a Jewish priest from Cyprus, which means he grew up around Greeks. Because of this, Barnabas may not have been viewed highly by Jews from Jerusalem. After all, Jews and Gentiles didn’t mix. 

The next name on the list is Simeon, called Niger. “Niger” is an adjective which means “black,” so many believe he had black skin. 

Lucius of Cyrene, who also taught the Greeks, has a Latin name, which means he was probably brought up in Roman culture. 

Manaen was most likely a Hellenistic Jew, since his name is a Greek form of a Hebrew name. Since he was “brought up with” Herod the tetrarch, he’d have been raised at the palace and lived at a higher socioeconomic status than the others. 

And finally, Saul: a former Pharisee whose change of heart led him to a career of bringing God’s Word to Gentiles.

So in this single group, you have Greek influence, Roman influence, Jewish influences, and different races and socioeconomic statuses, all coming together in Christ. 

Christ unifies us. Christ breaks apart our cultural barriers and helps us find common ground. As it says in I Corinthians 12, God has graced us all to be different, none of us more important than the other, but all vital and important pieces of the body of Christ. 

About the Author

Undre Alee (BA, MDiv, MA, LPC) is a three time Oral Roberts University Graduate. He has over 20 years of ministry experience and currently serves as the Youth Minister at Kirk Crossing. He has been a licensed professional counselor for 12 years with his own practice (Akouw Counseling). Undre & his wife Kara also provide premarital counseling & marriage enrichment through their ministry The Marriage Harbor.

To hear more from Undre, visit his ministry Devos with Dre below.

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