There is a lot of talk these days about the Church, good and bad. I fear, since the talk seems to be mostly bad, that we have lost sight of what the Church really is, who we are– we who make up the body of Christ. So, for a-yet-to-be-determined number of posts, I’ll be discussing ways the Bible describes the Church and what that means to us. I’ll also be ending each post with a guide for prayer, so we can join together in calling upon God to make us who he meant for us to be.
We Are: Diverse
For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. So the body is not one part but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,’ in spite of this it still belongs to the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,’ in spite of this it still belongs to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body.
– 1 Corinthians 12:12-20, HCSB
During college, I worried about being in a “bubble.” It’s a buzzword at private Christian schools, because the classes, social activities, and campuses are all built around intentional community. It’s easy and convenient to get sucked into doing the same things with the same kinds of people– people who are, for the most part, very similar to you. I was concerned that I wasn’t being a good Christian because I was mainly hanging out with other Christians.
But instead of trying to be a light by blending into the diversity at a public school (which I know would have happened), I got to be poured into by other Christians and in turn, pour into them. And guess what– we weren’t all the same. We’re not all the same. We are one, and we are connected by the bond of a common Savior and Lord, but we are not just one boring, solid colored canvas of people. We are a mosaic– a masterpiece of different colors, shapes, abilities, passions, backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and so much more.
I not only experienced this diversity on my two campuses, but also in the Christian communities surrounding them. I visited numerous churches and worked with several ministries– many of them as different from one another as night and day. I learned more about the Church in four years than I had in the previous 18 years combined. And, believe it or not, while I had a few bad experiences, I mostly loved what I saw.
Too often, we let our diversity divide us. Instead, we should allow it to bring us together– to complement one another, to learn from one another, to rejoice with one another, to hold one another accountable, to see the beauty in our differences and praise God for it.
We avoid diversity because it scares us. It might bring change– good or bad. It might change others, and, scariest of all, it might change us. But as I once heard someone say, “If you build divisions to keep out the bad and ugly, you also keep out the good and beautiful.”
God has a lot to accomplish on Earth. That’s why he made his Church diverse. There are billions of people in the world with trillions of needs. No one person is perfectly suited to meet all of them, to reach all of them, to affect all of them in the right ways. We need one another. That wouldn’t be true if we were clones.
Let’s pray for diversity.
Most Creative Father, thank you for making us different. Thank you for giving each of us quirks and passions and abilities that vary from person to person. Forgive us for acting like diversity is a result of sin. Help us to remember that is not the case– it is good to be different, from the world and from one another.
We pray, though, that we would be unified in the midst of our diversity– that we would work together to carry out your purposes. Let us not allow the tensions or the disagreements that come along with diversity to divide us or make us bitter. Let us power through the hard parts of being different to come to a place of mutual respect, understanding, cooperation, and most importantly, love.
God, please open my eyes to any areas in my life where I am opposed to diversity. Make it clear to me when I am shying away from someone because they are different, and let me overcome that fear by remembering the common ground we have in you. Don’t let prejudices or stereotypes keep me from initiating and building strong relationships with those who are different from me.
Lord, your Church is vast and complex. We are a great puzzle, each person a different piece. Put us together to make us your masterpiece, your handiwork, your grand design.
I thought this song was fitting:
COMMENT: When have you seen diversity work to further God’s kingdom?
You can read the other posts in this series here.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy A Stereotypical Post; The Sunday Shuffle: Why Hopping is Good, But Squatting is Better; and A Heritage of Faith and (In)Justice?: Why I’m Excited About the New SBC President.