Diversity and the goodness of God
Sterling Morse | bible Explorations
God proclaims creation and all of its diversity good. | Read: Genesis 1
At the very end of the first chapter of Genesis, when God had created everything, from the skies to the fish in the sea, it is written, “God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good” (1:31 alt.). Genesis makes clear that diversity is important to God, a blessing that God has bestowed upon all creation. That’s counterintuitive for some of us—we who may often think of diversity as a challenge, an obstacle to consensus. But here we see God willing into being the heavens and the earth and weaving into this world an interdependent population of creatures of many varieties. Upon God’s first site visit, God assessed that this diverse world was “very good.”
Diversity is good. Diversity provides us with opportunities for community. It enables us to connect, or even collide, with others and to experience something new and different. The result is a broader worldview, innovative ideas, and collaborative engagements that can create changes that benefit all.
Pray: Bless us with difference
Loving God, divine Artisan of diversity, we thank you for the awesome beauty of creation and for including us as active coparticipants in it. Forgive us for our spiritual blindness, and help us to see you at work as we experience people and cultures different from our own. Amen.
Study: Read Genesis 1 again
Genesis 1 speaks of the intentionality of God. God had something in mind when God created a world with assorted shapes, angles, and colors. From God’s imagination came the juxtaposition of water and earth, land and sky, night and day—to exist not in isolation but in interaction with one another.
In Genesis 2, God becomes concerned. The human creature, unlike the other species created by God, was alone. God says, “It is not good that the creature should be alone” (Gen. 2:18 alt.). We don’t know exactly what the first human being was experiencing, but we do know that isolation can lead to depression, a condition that is a major health concern in our church and world today.
A Brief Statement of Faith declares: “We trust in God the Holy Spirit, everywhere the giver and renewer of life. The Spirit . . . sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor, and bind us together with all believers in the one body of Christ, the Church.”
We live in a world where it seems people and nations are retreating in a defensive posture to neutral corners—all out of fear. There is talk of exclusion, borders, separation, and even violence and war. How might we, as people of faith, trust enough in the Holy Spirit to refuse to walk in fear and instead begin to honor the difference and potential we see in each other?
Living in diversity doesn’t just happen. It requires the willingness to regularly bump up against others’ differences—and the commitment to find nuggets of hope in the debris when these bumps turn into crashes. Often it involves sturdy resistance that over time gives way to open arms of loving embrace.
Developing relationships across lines of division can sometimes require more than we know how to give. During the difficult times in relationships, when there appears to be no hope, pause and reflect on who we are and to whom we belong: to God, our Creator; to Jesus Christ, our Redeemer; and to the Holy Spirit, who reconciles us to our purpose in God as well as to each other and the world.
Remember: Isaiah 64:8
Yet, O Lord, you are our Creator; we are the clay, you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (alt.)
Live: Hebrews 13:2
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” The lesson of creation is that God made space available for the earth and all therein, including humanity, to thrive, be fruitful, and prosper. The method is interaction.
Let us develop an inquisitive spirit and risk leaving our comfort zones to meet others where they are—where they work, play, celebrate, and struggle. The risky encounter with the “stranger” could be the springboard that launches you toward blessing.
Sterling Morse is coordinator for Cross-Cultural Ministries and Congregational Support for the Presbyterian Mission Agency.