Every group contains of a wide variety of personalities, interests and backgrounds. When Jesus brought people together with such stark perceptional differences, He knew that in fighting might become a real problem. Instead of insisting that the disciples be unified, Jesus pointed His men toward clear objectives. As the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven the last words He spoke to His disciples were, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8) The Savior of the world recognized that everyone has the right to accomplish goals according to their own strengths and perceptions. By honoring individual callings, the Lord created a synergistic effort through the disciples’ ministries that could be described as unity in spirit through diversity.
1. Jesus unified the disciples around an objective that they all committed themselves to – doing God’s priorities. The Lord knew that the disciples would struggle with human jealousy, envy and back-biting. However, Jesus gave each disciple a special gift that would allow them to make a unique contribution to the planting and growing of His church in quantity and quality. "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts and gifts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ." (I Cor. 12:12) In the providence of God, each person is given an invaluable opportunity to contribute to the body’s maintenance, growth and ministry. No one part of the body may claim to be more important than another. Jesus did not command His disciples to be responsible for understanding why they ministered in the way they did. The Lord knew that each person’s primary responsibility was to do what they could according to the abilities, backgrounds and resources entrusted to each individual. God is the final judge.
2. Jesus foresaw the temptation that members of the body of Christ would have to compare each others’ rank, role and position of authority. Paul knew about such a situation when he writes, "The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’… On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor." (I Cor. 12:21-23) The Lord Jesus helps everyone remember that we are special, but especially in relation to our healthy functioning and multiplication of His life through the church. We all need other believers for the sustaining of our spiritual life, growth and ministries.
3. Jesus gave the disciples an example of a Godly love that not only unites, but propels believers to be productive. The Lord knew that people are either task or relationally oriented. Christ said, "Love one another as I have loved you. By this will all men know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another." (John 13:34,35) A Christ like love allows people to remain united in purpose even though they may be of sharp differences of personal opinions.
4. Jesus knew that all groups tend to divide unless there is an effort to focus their attentions on higher purposes beyond their own survival. For this reason from the conception of Christ’s ministry He told the disciples, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men!" (Matt. 4:19) Jesus wanted to propel His disciples to higher levels of maturity, productivity and empowerment by engaging them in a task that would outlast their few years on earth.
5. Jesus helped the twelve apostles realize that as soon as the Holy Spirit descended from heaven, this would mean God’s control would come from within and not from without. No doubt this concept must have been difficult for the Jewish apostles to accept knowing that it would mean the Gentiles would now be their spiritual brothers, church members and equals. Paul writes, "We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given one Spirit to drink." ( I Cor. 12:13)
6. Jesus wanted all believers to realize that it is God who draws us together in His body and not any person. Human hero worship is a form of idolatry that the Lord hates. When any individual tries to take control of Christ’s church for selfish reasons, the Lord stops blessings that fellowship.
7. Jesus emphasized that there is a wide variety of different types of service ministries, but they are to be directed toward the same Lord. Paul writes, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working (expressions, methods or avenues of service) but the same God works all of them in all men." (I Cor. 12:4-6)