Thw following article I was written by a dear friend of mine, and near as I can tell I added to my “must save collection” sometime in 2002. I had to chuckle as I re-read it as my computer kept indicating where it thought I misspelled words. Te computer had no way of knowing that what might be misspelled in the USA might be correctly spelled in another English speaking county!!
Anothe ecample of Diversity. – Ninure da Hippie
Galatians 3:10, GNB; James 2:17, GNB; Romans 12:4-5, GNB; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 18-20, GNB; 1 Corinthians 13:12-13, GNB; Romans 14:13 and 19, GNB; John 13:34-35, GNB; Romans 15:7, GNB; 1 Peter 4:8-10, NEB.
Snoopy was typing a manuscript, up on his kennel. Charlie Brown: ‘What are you doing Snoopy?’ Snoopy: ‘Writing a book about theology.’ Charlie Brown: ‘Good grief. What’s its title?’ Snoopy (thoughtfully): ‘Have You Ever Considered You Might Be Wrong?’
This points up a central Christian dictum: God’s truth is very much bigger than our little systems.
Our Lord often made the point that God’s fathering extended to all people everywhere. He bluntly targeted the narrow nationalism of his own people, particularly in stories like the Good Samaritan. Here the ‘baddie’ is a hero. It’s a wonderful parable underlining the necessity to love God through loving your neighbour – and one’s neighbour is the person who needs help, whoever he or she may be. But note that love of neighbour is more than seeking their conversion, then adding a few acts of mercy to others in ‘our group’. Jesus’ other summary statements about the meaning of religion and life in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 involve justice too: attempting to right the wrongs my neighbour suffers.
‘Ethnocentrism’ is the glorification of my group. What often happens in practice is a kind of spiritual apartheid: I’ll do my thing and you do yours – over there. Territoriality (‘my place – keep out!’) replaces hospitality (‘my place – you’re welcome!’). I like Paul’s commendation in Philippians 2:19-21 of Timothy ‘who really cares’ when everyone else was concerned with their own affairs.
Sometimes our non-acceptance of others’ uniqueness has jealousy or feelings of inferiority at its root. You have probably heard the little doggerel, ‘I hate the guys/ that criticise/ and minimise/ the other guys/ whose enterprise/ has made them rise/ above the guys/ that criticise/ and minimise…’
In our global village we cannot avoid relating to ‘different others’. Indeed, marriage is all about two different people forming a unity in spite of their differences. Those differences can of course be irritating – for example when a ‘lark’ marries an ‘owl’ (but the Creator made both to adorn his creation).
Even within yourself there are diverse personalities. If you are a ‘right brain’ person, why not develop an interest in ‘left brain’ thinking?
The Lord reveals different aspects of divine truth to different branches of the church. What a pity, then, to make our part of the truth the whole truth. Martin Buber had the right idea when he said that the truth is not so much in human beings as between them. An author dedicated his book to ‘Stephen… who agrees with me in nothing, but is my friend in everything.’ Just as an orchestra needs every instrument, or a fruit salad is tastier with a great variety of fruits, so we are enriched through genuine fellowship with each other.
A Christian group matures when it recognises it may have something to learn from other groups. The essence of immaturity is not knowing that one doesn’t know, and therefore being unteachable. No one denomination or church has a monopoly on the truth. How was God able to get along for 1500, 1600 or 1900 years without this or that church? Differences between denominations or congregations – or even within them – reflect the rich diversity and variety of the social, cultural and temperamental backgrounds from which those people come. But they also reflect the character of God whose grace is ‘multi-coloured’.
If you belong to Christ and I belong to Christ, we belong to each other and we need each other. Nothing should divide us.
A Prayer: Lord God our Creator, when you made all creatures great and small in their rich diversity you were so delighted. And when you made human beings (in your image) to be so diverse, they must represent somehow the rich diversity of the Godhead itself. Lord, our Redeemer, when Jesus Christ died to draw all unto him, it was in prospect of heaven being populated by people from every tribe, language, nation and race.
Lord, help me to appreciate all this richness; may my theology not be too eccentric, peripheral to the central concern of the gospel which is to increase love for God and others. So teach me how to stay close to you, close to humankind, and make it the goal of my life to bring God and humankind together. Help me to move from law (with its tendency to reduce everything to a common denominator) to grace (where individual differences are celebrated). May my view of myself be conditioned more by my being bound up in life with others, rather than my separateness from them. Help me to be big enough to be all things to all people, to help in their saving to keep the bridges between me and others in good repair…
May God be merciful to us, and bless us; look on us with kindness, so that the whole world may know your will; so that nations may know your salvation. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you! (Psalm 67: 1,2).
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