I have put together the following reflection and prayer on the beauty of diversity in our world (please don’t cringe, I know the term “diversity” gets misused often as “let’s point out all the different stereotypes of different ethnic groups!”). The following passage from Mark reminds us that there isn’t just one way (one denomination, dare i say, “one religion”?) of looking at everything in the world.
38″Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
39″Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.
In America (sorry if you aren’t American, but I can only speak to my own national experience!), with the rise of individualism, many people become frightened in conflict. They want to know the truth and feel like they have the truth but when someone challenges “their truth”, they either retract because they don’t want “their truth” to be wrong or they get loud and angry ( just watch pundit shows on Fox or CNN).
Does God become revealed in only one truth? God is the One and Only Truth, Amen and Alleluia! But is God’s revelation of God’s glory only through a particular set of ways of interpreting the world? Or are these interpretations of the world really OUR interpretations that are comfortable for OURSELVES, not what God wants for us? Is God truly calling for war in Iraq? Is God calling for a particular style of worship? Is God calling for the condemnation of certain groups of people? Or are we rebellious against God when we don’t heed God’s call to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly” (Micah 6:8)? When do we let “ourselves” get in the way of what God is yearning for us?
Are we running to Jesus when confronted with others who are doing the work of Christ? Do we get too caught up in “Jesus”,the man, and forget Christ, the divine and loving manifestation of God who came as one of us (in Jesus) to heal us?
Do we expect that if Christ came again, Christ would have to be Anabaptist?
What is the beauty of God: one way of looking at the world, or many different ways of coming to the Truth of God?
Ask yourself today and in the coming days:
When do I submit to God’s will in my life?
When do I let myself “decide” what the will of God is?
Are others “wrong” if they don’t see things my way?
How do I understand when something is “wrong”?
When is my understanding of God helpful, and when it is harmful?
Heavenly Lord, Most Precious, Loving, and Merciful, we thank You for the many ways that You yearn for Us, that You reveal Yourself to us, even when we fall short of You. When we look around at all the different ways that people practice and live, Lord, we thank You for the beauty of that diversity. We pray, Lord, that You will not let us become too bound up in this world, in this life, and in these ways of thinking, and neglect the building of Your kingdom. Be with us to show us where and how You are revealing Yourself to us so that we may nurture Your Kingdom on this earth. Amen.