I serve as pastor at Emmanuel United Methodist Church, in Appleton, Wisconsin. I just finished my second year of seminary at United Theological Seminary of Dayton, Ohio. Final papers turned in, another semester down! Praise God!
In addition to these duties, God has charged me with the important tasks of husband and father. I have been a stay-at-home dad since our son was born nearly three years ago. My wife Ann and I have another baby on the way this fall.
Through all of these different callings from God I hear many different voices. Perhaps that is why I was so drawn to the topic of GRIN diversity when approached by ChrisSantos-Lang. As a culture we too often sharply divide issues by stark contrast. The easiest way to discourse an issue is to make it black or white, when perhaps there is more value in listening to those opinions that exist in the grays.
The Gospel reading from John this week offers some insight into evaluative diversity. Jesus recognizes the uniqueness in which God created us, but calls us to one purpose:
“Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” (John 17:11, NRSV)
Jesus spent about three years with these twelve people known as the disciples. He knows that they are twelve different people with twelve different personalities. And in prayer, intentionally right in front of them says to God the Father help them be one, Father, as we are one. Make this group of people a unified one in the same way that we are unified: for one purpose
Creator God is different, has distinct qualities from God the Son, God our Savior in Jesus Christ. We recognize distinct qualities, history and gifts of Father, Creator God. There is a uniqueness to Jesus, the word becoming flesh, and God dwelling among us. Along with the Holy Spirit, we see unique, distinct qualities of our one God as different parts of the trinity. There are differences, but there is one purpose.
It is a purpose, a unity, based on God’s love. The very existence of Jesus, the word becoming flesh was because of God’s love for us. Our very existence as God’s creation is out of God’s love for us. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit set an example for the disciples what authentic community looks like. In the one purpose, many become one.
This is the prayer that Jesus has for the disciples. The prayer he makes for them, in front of them, so really it becomes a command. A command to live in harmony, live in community for God’s one purpose of spreading the gospel, of loving others. A command to gather all of uniqueness, direct all of their distinctiveness towards the one purpose. Many become One in the mission that Jesus lays out before them. The purpose Jesus lays out for them. In God’s love for us, many become one.
I see Christ in evaluative diversity and the work that Chris is doing. For me, evaluative diversity is the recognition of our different views and value systems for God’s greater purpose of loving people. I believe we can celebrate these views and the people that hold them because they are uniquely made gifts from God. Jesus calls us to bring our unique gifts to the table for the one common purpose of love for all people. In God’s love for us, many become one.
Along with the rest of our core team, I invite your prayers as we explore God’s love within this context of evaluative diversity.