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Celebrating Diversity in the Church
"God must love variety. Even plants of the same species are different--some tall, some leafy, others with a profusion of flowers. He is not the God of an assembly line creation, but One who loves and appreciates the differences.
"God loves variety. All His plants are different. That's the way He likes it. God made us this way and loves us for our uniqueness. He created our uniqueness for His own purposes.
"There is a beautiful verse in Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV): 'The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.'
"We are God's garden, the planting of the Lord. Singly we are unique flowers, together a garden. I pray that He enjoys visiting His gardens on Sunday mornings. And I hope He whistles in His heart to the songs we are singing to Him."
- by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
The Kingdom of God is a rich tapestry, with young and old, male and female, and representatives from every nation and people. Our churches should reflect the Kingdom, welcoming and ministering to all people.
"Did you ever wonder why there is so much variety within the human race? Or what the purpose of it is? How much simpler things would be if we all spoke the same language and behaved in generally the same way. ...It is our conviction that God planned the great variety of race and culture among humans. His creation is beautiful in its variety and complexity." (2)
"Cultural diversity in one of its most obvious forms -- language -- suddenly became a part of human society by an act of God (at the Tower of Babel). Now it may be argued that all these different languages that men speak are a curse, the result of God's punishment. However, consider this: God wanted people to scatter over the earth. He undoubtedly knew that as they did so they would develop diverse customs and languages, even as it happens in the world today. Since they resisted doing so, and God confounded their languages in order to scatter them, is it not possible to interpret the giving of diverse language as part of God's desire for variety in the racial and cultural forms of men? ...We may, then, look upon this ability to speak different languages and develop different cultures as a gift from God."
Prejudice is not God's way. "It passes judgment on other cultures and says, 'My ways are better.' Prejudice is sin, for it idolizes what is only human and it looks with disdain upon other humans who bear the image of God."(2)
The Bible tells us that every nation and tongue will be represented before the throne in His Kingdom.
"Unity in Christ does not mean uniformity." (2)
"So why do people differ?
"Racially - because God created humans with the biological capability to produce tremendous variety and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
"Culturally - because God created humans in His image and commanded them to subdue His varied and complex creation. In so doing, they quite naturally developed a variety of cultures.
"Linguistically (which is part of a culture) - because they didn't want to scatter around the earth and so God, in a single act, gave men a variety of languages.
Why do people differ? Because God wants us to. When you think about it, it is really quite beautiful.
Let's rejoice with God in the riot of diversity." (2)
(1) Copyright by Ralph F. Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
(2) "The Stranger Who Is Among You," James Duren and Rod Wilson, William Carey Library, 1983. Used by permission.
Make a mini poster of Dr. Ralph Wilson's reflection on diversity to hang in your church.
Just go to the printable version.
More excerpts from "The Stranger Who Is Among You":
How to Start
Opportunities for Cross-Cultural Ministry
Overcoming Our Fears
Working Through Cultural Differences
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