The hydrangea plant grows big, colourful blooms. They can tolerate almost any type of soil, however the colour of their flowers can vary dramatically, depending on the pH level of the soil. Plant one in slightly acidic soil and it will grow with blue blooms, but more alkaline soil, and you’ll have a pink hydrangea.
And so these plants appear differently around the world: the USA has mostly pink hydrangeas, Brazil has mostly blue and in other places they’re purple. It’s even possible to provide one flowerbed with a mix of soils, producing a spectacular spectrum in one spot.
One type of plant produces a variety of outcomes. That can serve as a little metaphor for how the Spirit of God works through each of us in different and colourful ways.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
As each believer is like soil (Matthew 13:3-9) the Holy Spirit is manifested, or displayed, in different ways through each Christian.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:7
‘Manifestation’ means to make something visible that would otherwise be invisible. Using the gifts God gives makes an invisible God visible. That’s what miracles, healings and words of knowledge etc are, they’re called ‘signs’ as they point to something, or Someone else.
For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom,
and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,
to another faith by the same Spirit,
to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,
to another the working of miracles,
to another prophecy,
to another the ability to distinguish between spirits,
to another various kinds of languages,
to another the interpretation of languages.
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit,
who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
1 Corinthians 12:8-11
And so having unity doesn’t mean we should all be the same. We all have the same Spirit, the same Lord, the same God, but His same life and power is often expressed through each of us in different ways.