Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

Living For God In The Midst of Diversity

October 20, 2016

I am blessed. Out of a series of seemingly unconnected events plus my life of preparation, I entered a profession combining my love of technology and my love of writing.

The industry is filled with basically good and smart people. It sort of reminds me of the sign at the boundary of a village we once lived in–Population 1000 good people and one grouch. There are almost 6,000 names in my contact data base and many people have come and gone without making it into the contact list. There can’t be more than 10, maybe only 5, who were that “one grouch.”

Here’s a photo from the technology conference I’m at this week in Austin, Texas. Dell Technologies (you know, “Hey, Dude, you got a Dell!”) annual gathering. The photo doesn’t show as much diversity as you’d normally see. We are “social influencers” and Dell marketing people.

social-influencers-at-dell-emc-world

But there are people from all over the world here. Just this week, there were conversations with people from all around Europe, India, Dubai, China, Southeast Asia, Japan, and many more.

It must be boring to live in a rural area or a city suburban enclave where everyone is just like you. There is so much to learn and experience.

And almost all have some level of hunger for a spiritual life. They may be Hindu, Muslim of one of many flavors, Christian of one of many flavors, Buddhist, pagan (yes I have avowedly pagan friends), searchers. If you talk for a while, you discover the humanness of all.

Then you stop to realize that God created each and every one of them. And God loves each one. And offers his grace to all. And you listen to people talk about people who are different from themselves at least at some superficial level like skin color or language, and you ask, “Why?”

Paul wrote to people who were living for Jesus in the midst of great diversity. He, as well as the people he wrote to, just accepted that. Especially the letters to the people in Corinth, but also to those in Ephesus, he said live for God, but deal with the others. And in so doing you will attract others to faith in Jesus.

We know that diversity in the workforce builds a stronger company. I bet that diversity in our churches would build a stronger church. Who are we turning away because they are different from us? The better path is to talk with everyone who crosses our path remembering they are also children of God.

Healing Divisions in the Church

January 21, 2015

Paul was concerned deeply about unity in his little chain of ekklesia gatherings. I think many of his “rules” were written with the deep knowledge of human interactions that would cause divisions, drifting, jealousy, and the like.

I’m finishing N.T. Wright’s Paul and the Faithfulness of God where he expounds at length on the subject of unity.

Recently I was with a small group of people who had perpetuated and instigated divisiveness in their organization.

I open up scripture and read from the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians.

If you are not familiar with that section, I urge you to read it for yourself. This is one place where Paul really expresses his human disappointment at people who spread divisiveness.

I meet with a group of men on Tuesday mornings. With around 14 of us, we may have 15 different theologies (OK, that’s a joke, probably only 3 or 4). We do all agree on certain fundamentals–especially the resurrection of Jesus. That is the core gospel. And with it, the coming of the spirit to feed us and guide us. And we can work through some diversity of opinion without losing our heads and dividing the group in hatred and bad feelings.

That’s the core of Paul’s message. We are all to come together in great diversity (for Paul to go to the lengths to describe it as much as he does, you just have to know it was revolutionary). Male and female; Jew and Gentile; free and slave. All are one in Jesus the Messiah.

He had so much trouble in his small groups, I wonder what he would think today about trying to achieve unity among millions of Christ followers.

He’d probably just get on his jet and try to visit everyone and preach the gospel. And write more letters. I imagine that he would be strongly emotional in the letters today. What do you think?

Note: I wrote on this topic a few days ago. Obviously dear to my heart right now is the achievement of unity through diversity.

Diversity Triumphs

December 1, 2014

It was once said that the most segregated hour in the United States was 10 am on Sunday morning. Very few churches have a diversity of people in their congregation. Even today.

Of course part of the reason is style of worship. But that is not the entire reason. The question is—do we reach out to only those like us? Or do we reach out at all?

One reason we still seem to have racial troubles some 50 years after Martin Luther King had a dream (mine, too) is that at a personal level too many of us just don’t like people who aren’t like us. Most white men around me hate powerful women. (Another latent problem.) They may get along with an individual black person, but black people as a whole are still regarded suspiciously. Oh, and the other way around.

Trust is a commodity on the endangered list in too many places. This lack of trust, maybe for good reason, is a cancer.

I look to Jesus for examples. He lived during his ministry in a predominately Jewish area. But there was diversity even within the tribe. He dealt easily with women—not a rabbi-like action. He socialized easily with all social strata of the Jews. He had no problems interacting with Romans and Greeks. His inner circle contained people of differing politics, geographies, backgrounds.

Paul reflects the teachings found in Deuteronomy 30 and Isaiah 40 ff where God talks about rulers ruling with justice and mercy. That is probably the way we should read Romans 13. (He just made a personal mistake about the future rulers of Rome.) If you read Paul carefully without pulling quotes out of context, he pleaded with his followers to seek unity amongst their diversity—and some of the ekklesia knew tremendous diversity.

Study after study reveals the benefits to an organization that accrue from diversity.

Why aren’t we trying?

An organization practicing diversity among its teams wins over time.

Living With Diversity Or Dealing With Outcasts

March 13, 2014

Jesus and his followers for the next 300 years or so understood that they lived in a multi-ethnic society. They did not expect that the whole neighborhood, city, country were just like them. They had a message about how to live life in the Spirit and wanted to share it.

I grew up Methodist in a Lutheran town (pop. 1,000). We were taught there were vast differences between us. So, go figure when the first “hillbillies” moved into town. Wow, the old women started talking. (I spent time with my great-grandmother, so that’s the group I heard.)

Now, look at the New Testament. Jesus, Paul, and the rest. They dealt routinely with people from a variety of cultures. Of course, there were people who “kept to their own kind.” But not these people.

Our politicians in Washington are debating immigration again (still?). Politics is one thing, and I don’t care to discuss it. But much of the argument comes from attitude. That, I’ll discuss. They’re not like us. They speak a different language. Have a different culture. Eat different foods. We still have people who wish to keep to their own kind.

Look at the example of Jesus (recorded in John 4). In two quick stories, back-to-back, John tells about Jesus talking with a woman (gasp) alone by a well outside the city. Oops, she’s also from an outcast part of the area (Samaritan). That’s two strikes. What is he up to?

Then he stays two days in the Samaritan town. Remember, Jews at the time would walk for miles to go around the area of Samaria rather than even walk through it. Can you imagine Jesus’ disciples? What were they thinking when Jesus said, “OK, let’s spend a couple of days here.”

The very next story concerns a Roman. Even worse than a Samaritan. Jesus heals his child.

The Samaritans believed. The Roman believed. There are no comments in the text. It’s just business as usual for Jesus.

Just so for us. Many of us in the Midwest grew up in homogeneous towns. Many others grew up among the same type of people even in cities. Some still live apart from others.

Following the example of our pioneer leaders in faith, we need to learn to live with diversity. Understand that others are also human, with the same needs and desires. We all need to live in the Spirit of God.