A few days ago, my oldest son, Ben, helped me make dinner. He was in charge of cutting the baby potatoes to roast in the oven. I told him he could either quarter the potatoes or slice them into thin round circles – one or the other. He chose to slice them.
I went about my business until he was nearly finished, at which point I glanced to see him quartering the potatoes. I asked what he was doing and he said that he’d gotten tired of slicing them, so he’d switched. Slightly frustrated, I explained that potatoes of different sizes and thickness would cook differently, which meant they wouldn’t get done at the same time. Ben turned back to his work space, grabbed the bowl full of differently-shaped potatoes, presented it to me with a smile, and proclaimed, “Mom, it’s time for us to celebrate diversity.”
Ben is right; it is time to celebrate diversity. I have grown weary of our culture intent on celebrating division.
Diversity is Valuable
Pick a topic, any topic, and you will find individuals who hold a diversity of thought. Take for instance, and I’m just picking something completely at random here, how to appropriately handle yourself in a pandemic situation. Hypothetically, I can imagine a scenario in which individuals (perhaps even those thought of as experts) might have a diversity of thought on the right way to respond during a pandemic. Perhaps you can imagine this, too? I can also imagine that in that scenario, so many loud and differing opinions might make navigating unchartered territory that much more confusing.
Diversity of thought, though, is a valuable tool as we take the time to learn from one another and understand each other’s perspective. Even so, much like cooking quartered potatoes with sliced ones, carrying on a dialogue that encompasses diverse thoughts, opinions, and perspectives requires some innovation and grace and an understanding that every morsel won’t be perfect, but it can all be beneficial to our lives.
Diversity is from God
Diversity exists by God-given design. “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and those members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” Romans 12:4-6. God has created His people to approach His world uniquely. He has set them on paths with a diversity of life experiences. He has crafted us with diverse personalities, struggles, pain points, empathies, convictions. God intends that we are to work together to gain a fuller understanding of His world and who He is – an understanding that we cannot gain on our own, absent community.
And yet, we are unified as one body in Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6.
The goal is not to make us all alike, but to embrace the diversity of gifts and perspectives God has given us and to encourage one another in who we are in Christ. “It is he (Christ) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13.
Now, to be fair, I find it much easier to encourage someone in their gifting as a pastor or a teacher even if I am not one, than I do to listen to someone passionately express an opinion that differs from mine. But that does not mean I am exempt from showing them the grace Christ shows me daily. Grace celebrates diversity, not division.
Celebrate Diversity with Grace
It is time for us, with grace, to celebrate the diversity with which God created His people. Perhaps as we learn more about the ways we have been uniquely created, the ways our life experiences shape our perspectives, the ways our personalities and heritage inform our view of God’s world, we will not only better understand how to love one another as we are called to, but will also gain better understanding of the complexity of God’s love for all of us.