Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson.
1. How do you handle people who are from different backgrounds or cultures than you? Do you welcome outsiders and strangers into your circle of friends?
2. What does unity mean to you? Consider synonyms like harmony, balance, symphony, and proportion, and antonyms like confusion, disorganization, tension, and incompatibility. What do you think unity should look like in the church?
Read Colossians 3:11-14
1. Since its founding, Christianity has been incredibly diverse, with believers coming from vastly differing backgrounds, cultures, and influences. Compare Galatians 3:26-29 with Colossians 3:11. Discuss the differences Paul lists among believers (religious bloodlines, social genealogies, employment/social status, education, and gender) and how our unity in Christ influences the way we ought to work with and treat other believers.
2. Examine the virtues we are to have as God’s chosen people. What role does love play in creating perfect unity?
3. Read 1 John 2:1-4. In other translations, John writes “My little children” (or teknia, translated “my darlings” or “infants” in the Greek) perhaps to show how immature believers can be with regard to forgiving the sins of one another, but also to show the tenderness of his love. Discuss how this passage ties in with Colossians 3:13.
Read Colossians 3:15-17
4. How are love, forgiveness, and gratitude connected to the peace of Christ that rules in our hearts?
5. Consider how Bible reading and teaching, biblical and godly admonishment, and corporate fellowship and worship create unity within the body of believers.
Read Colossians 3:18-4:1
6. With God, it’s always about our relationships. Paul first addresses our ties with people inside our own families and from there to our outside work relationships. How do these relationships reflect on our character as Christians?
7. Compare Paul’s standards for mutual respect with what you see in the world around you. Discuss how this can be positively or negatively reflected within the church. How can Christians maintain balance and harmony within the church if we’re not maintaining it with the people who surround us daily?
8. Do we live in the darkness of hate? Are we blind to how we treat one another? Read 1 John 2:11-18. Make a list of practical ways you can demonstrate your love for God in your personal relationships this week.
Conclude your group time with prayer, using the following as a guide. Jesus, thank you that you are the standard for all our relationships. In every human interaction you had on earth, you reflected love and wanted the very best for others. Holy Spirit, help us to be unified as one in the body of believers. Amen.