Consider that while many things in creation are similar in some respects, in an absolute sense and by God’s design there is no duplication of anything that exists in the known universe. There must be good reasons for this since we find great diversity in the Creation account and these words: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Two reasons for this reality come to mind:
- Differences allow for specialization and unique contribution. Like rare gemstones, their one-of-a-kind characteristics elevate their value.
- Differences and variety make beauty possible since it is through contrasting colors, shapes, processes and dimensions that we are able to recognize it. If it were otherwise the universe would be bland indeed.
It is a fact that no two things are absolutely identical. Nevertheless, we easily recognize that many things are similar. For instance, with respect to humanity in general, we find a tremendous amount of variety and differences among us including ethnicity, race, culture, gender, physical makeup and personality. Yet, to a certain extent and in spite of our differences, and because we are all human we are able to identify with each other and function in community. Similarly, Jesus who was very God, became man in order to identify with us and us with Him.
Thankfully, our differences allow us to contribute to our mutual well-being in ways that are unique, special and valuable. Little wonder the Bible emphasizes aspects of both individuality and similarity:
For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body – so also is Christ . . . .So the body is not one part but many. If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body . . . .So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” But even more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary. And those parts of the body that we think to be less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unpresentable parts have a better presentation (1 Corinthians 12: 12, 14-16, 21-23).
There are three interrelated principles that follow these verses in my Life Essentials Study Bible that help expand their meaning and application:
Principle #25, page 1584:
As members of local churches, we should be committed to manifesting the fruit of the Holy Spirit and becoming unified in Christ.
Principle #26, page 1585:
To create unity in our local churches, we must be committed to building up one another in love.
Principle #27, page 1585:
To build up one another, we must demonstrate Christ’s love in all our relationships.
In this world, differences and diversity often result in division, controversy, and hard feelings – something God never intended. In the church, through the unifying power of the Holy Spirit, we can come to appreciate more deeply the handiwork of God.