Introduction: How many times do you say “Picture this?” Or, “let me
paint a picture of what is happening?” These are not paintings or
photographs, rather they are word pictures that help us understand a
concept. That is our study this week. What word pictures in the
Bible help us to better understand unity in the church? Let’s plunge
into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Nation

    1. Read 1 Peter 2:9. What do you think Peter means by the
      term “holy nation?” (He is not simply describing a
      country, he is describing the combination of church and

      1. What is unusual about the citizens of this theocracy?
        (We are all “royal” priests who belong to God.)

        1. What concepts normally come to mind when you
          think of a priest? (One who leads in religious
          matters. This picture tells us that we are all
          religious leaders.)

      2. What is our job? (To praise God!)

      3. Where did we used to live? (We used to live in
        darkness and now we live in light.)

      4. When you consider the words “holy,” “nation,”
        “priest,” and “light,” does this suggest a division
        from others? (Yes. A nation covers a specific
        territory, a priest is a specific job category, holy
        is something set aside, and moving towards the light
        suggests a grouping. All of these paint a picture of
        a division from the rest of the world.)

    2. Read 1 Peter 2:10. What was our former status? (We were
      not God’s people and we did not enjoy mercy.)

      1. How can that be? Didn’t God always love us and show
        us mercy? (Context is important. We explore that in
        the next section.)

  2. Temple

    1. Read 1 Peter 2:4-5. What did priests do during Peter’s
      time? (They offered sacrifices to God.)

      1. What makes our sacrifices acceptable? (We offer them
        through Jesus Christ.)

      2. Think about this a moment. What was the reason for
        the Old Testament sacrifices? (To rid the people of
        their sins.)

      3. These are the verses that precede the text telling us
        that we were not a people and did not enjoy mercy.
        How would you answer the question about whether God
        has always loved us and shown us mercy? (Jesus came
        to live, die and be resurrected for us. This rescued
        us from our terrible decision to turn our allegiance
        over to Satan. Jesus gave us the opportunity for
        eternal life. The opportunity to be in a right
        relationship with God is now ours!)

    2. Re-read 1 Peter 2:5. How are we like Jesus? (We, too, are
      now “living stones.”)

      1. Why are we described as stones? I’m not sure that is
        how I would want to be complimented – “Cameron, you
        are a lot like this rock: round, fat, dense, and you
        don’t move.” (We are “stones” that are alive to form
        “a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.”)

      2. Once again, we are told that we are all “priests,”
        part of a greater order of priests. What does that
        say about whether we are all ministers for God? (In
        the next section we will be studying a picture of a
        church that looks like a body. This tells us that we
        do not all have the same jobs. But, all of us are in
        unity as ministers.)

    3. Read 1 Peter 2:6. What is the design for our living
      temple? (Jesus is our cornerstone. If we put our
      confidence in Him, we “will never be put to shame.”)

    4. Read 1 Peter 2:7-8. If a person does not build his life on
      Jesus, what happens? (Jesus is merely a rock that trips us
      up, makes us stumble and fall.)

      1. What causes this stumbling? (Disobedience.)

      2. Can you explain this? Why does rejecting Jesus make
        us disobey? (We are naturally evil. Our sinful human
        nature makes us “not a people” of God. Jesus changes
        all of that if we accept Him.)

    5. Read 1 Peter 2:11-12. We earlier learned that our job as
      priests is to bring glory to God. What aspect of our job
      of bringing glory to God do we find here? (We are priests,
      in an organized “holy nation” for the purpose of showing
      our good deeds to pagans. This brings glory to God.)

      1. What gets in the way of these good deeds? (“Sinful
        desires.” What do you desire? What do you spend time
        thinking about? If it is sinful, this creates a “war
        against your soul.”)

      2. Consider your life. Who are you glorifying by your
        actions? (I don’t know about you, but this is a
        constant rebuke to me and a reminder to focus my
        desires on the true goal.)

  3. The Body

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. What is the unifying power in
      all of these different abilities? (The Holy Spirit. He
      directs who gets what abilities and roles.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. To what are members of the
      church compared? (A human body.)

      1. Read 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. Paul now tells us that
        our body is a temple and God lives in it. How can he
        say that our body is a temple and that we are stones
        for a greater living temple? (We are individually
        important, and we are collectively important as a
        unified church. The common element is that God,
        through the Holy Spirit, lives in us. He also directs
        the building of the greater temple.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-20. What are we warned against?
      Hand envy? (We should realize the importance of our
      position in the church. Every position is critical for the
      body to operate properly.)

      1. Should we be content with our position? (Read 1
        Corinthians 12:29-31. This tells us to “eagerly
        desire the greater gifts.”)

      2. What is the difference between envy and desiring to
        have greater gifts? Have you run into church members
        who envied the role of another church member?
        (Decades ago I had a member of the class who would
        start asking questions of other members. As the
        teacher, I could have just sat down, because she was
        now asking questions. This was not my idea of what it
        meant for me to teach the class, so the church
        offered to let her teach her own class. Within
        weeks, people stopped attending her class and she
        left the church. I believe this illustrates the
        problem of saying “because I am not a hand, I do not
        belong to the body.”)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 12:21-24. Against what is Paul warning
      us? (Not only is every role in the church essential, but
      no one should look down on the role of another.)

      1. Is this another weapon against envy? (Yes. Envy may
        begin because church members sense that some roles
        are more important than others.)

      2. What specific advice does Paul give the church to
        fight against the problem of thinking that certain
        roles are less desirable? (We need to treat those
        jobs with “special honor.” We need to publically
        praise and thank those who do those jobs. Being “up
        front” has built into it a reward. We need to reward
        those who do jobs which are not inherently

  4. Gate Crashers

    1. Read John 10:1-6. The Bible tells us that the people did
      not understand the point Jesus was making. Do you see any
      lesson about unity in this?

      1. What do you think Jesus means when He speaks about
        recognizing voices? (We need to recognize the voice
        of God.)

      2. When you think about issues of unity in the church,
        how much of this arises from not understanding God’s
        will, understanding His “voice?” (The thief and
        robber can only succeed with those sheep who do not
        know their shepherd.)

        1. How can we know God’s voice? (By doing what you
          are doing right now, studying God’s word. Ask
          the Holy Spirit to help you understand as you
          read the Bible and try to understand its

    2. Friend, do these Bible word pictures of a nation, temple,
      stone, body and sheep help you to better understand what
      God has in mind for our unity? Will you do your part, by
      the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring greater unity to
      your church?

  5. Next week: When Conflicts Arise.