Unity And Diversity

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

tapestryWhen we talk about who we are at the church I pastor, we describe ourselves as a diverse gathering of broken yet hopeful people who believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life.

Our mission and values flow out of that statement of identity.

Recently I’ve been reflecting on the phrase “a diverse gathering.” What constitutes diversity? Often times that descriptive is determined by exteriors … race, ethnicity, etc. I’m more inclined to think that diversity certainly includes those, but is far broader. Just think about characteristics like personality, abilities, education, and experiences which can vary even within a single family. Every person is created with a unique imprint of God’s image and each of us live out a story that is all our own.

I’m not excluding the exteriors, just suggesting that diversity exists in profound interior expressions even within groups of people that might appear very similar at first glance.

In light of that, it seems to me that whatever we might lack in certain forms of diversity shouldn’t diminish where we have it. We honor God’s immense creativity by celebrating the diversity we possess and welcoming new expressions God may choose to add in the future. I’ve seen hundreds of beautiful, varied stories walk into Fellowship over the years and can’t wait to see the stories that are yet to arrive.

Perhaps instead of making it our goal to manufacture a particular type of diversity, we might be better off embracing the diversity God brings to our community of faith. We’ve practiced this as a church and have seen the tapestry of our congregation transform wonderfully from what it was in our earliest days.

Having said that, diversity isn’t without boundaries in the body of Christ. The Bible outlines a call for unity around distinctives of the Christian faith. Those distinctives are being challenged like never before as the moral and spiritual fabric of our culture erodes. In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he emphasized the need for Christ followers to live in such a way so as to preserve the distinct character of the church.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1–6 (ESV)

So, despite our diversity, we are not free to believe and act any way we please. The Church isn’t merely a club where we get to make up the rules as we go. Rather, we are called to unify around our common faith in Christ and strive together by grace toward ever greater conformity to a biblical way of life.

Cultivating unity and celebrating our diversity is a challenge, no doubt. But those churches that strive to do both offer a spectacular display of God’s creativity and His unified nature to a world in desperate need of hope only the gospel can provide.

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