Monday Devotional: May 22, 2023



Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:3-13 (NRSVUE)

3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit, 5 and there are varieties of services but the same Lord, 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of powerful deeds, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Can you feel the tension between unity and diversity in this text? On the one hand, we read about the same Spirit, same Lord, same God, common good. On the other, we recognize a variety of gifts, service, and activities. Like a string on a musical instrument, if the space between unity and diversity is wound too tight, it will break. If the bond between unity and diversity is too loose, it cannot make a sound. Only when the string is wound just right, when we find the right balance between unity and diversity — can we experience a beautiful sound.

Many of us tend to emphasize unity to the point of misinterpreting it as sameness. Others of us want to do our own thing in our way, but only with people who are like us. Unity does not mean we all do the same thing, act the same way, sing the same song, or vote for the same political candidate. Unity does not ignore or minimize our differences for the sake of sameness. Unity operates a deeper connection through the Spirit, which allows us to do and believe in different things and still belong to the same community. This deeper connection allows us to accept and appreciate the different gifts, skills, and talents that each person brings to the community.

We live in a world where we are so divided, especially politically, that many of us avoid diversity of opinion to the point of avoiding family holiday gatherings because we don’t know what to say when politics comes up in conversations. The Spirit of God can help us wind this tension between unity and diversity just right so that we can make holy music and dance together.


Spirit of God, come upon us and help us not to be afraid of conflicts that arise from our diversity; help us find the right tension through dialogue and understanding so that together we can be activated to do the work of justice, peace, and reconciliation. Amen.

By Eric H. F. Law, The Upper Room Disciplines 2020, page 186.