Getting Personal: Diversity

In delivering the message at the Voorhees campus, Pastor Rick Court started out talking about produce. Yup, produce. He tossed out the fact that there are more than 7,500 varieties of apple (his favorite fruit) and more than 1,600 bananas (which he finds less “appealing,” ahem).

Because of these kinds of tangents Rick can go off on, he will sometimes feel the need to assure, “It all ties in, you’ll see.” However, he needed no such disclaimer Sunday: From the stats about produce to how many different trees there are (60,000 trees, and btw, no two leaves are alike …) and how many animals (1.2 million) and insects (91,000—ewwwww) live among us, Rick was emphasizing how diverse God made the livings things that dwell on Earth.

He also made a bold declaration: “We are not created equal,” but quickly explained what he meant.  “God wove diversity into creation.” This was done not so we could look at different people and cultures and discriminate based on physical features such as skin color or other genetic attributes such as ethnicity. Instead it was God’s way of illustrating how He embraces complexity and variety. Just like no two leaves are alike, each person—all 7.4 billion of us currently inhabiting Planet Earth—has a unique set of fingerprints.

Our spiritual gifts, or our spiritual fingerprints, are just as varied. After quoting from 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 about the spiritual gifts God has bestowed upon every Christ follower, Rick said something that really stood out to me. He said even if you have the gift of leadership or teaching or encouragement, the way God will have wired you to use that gift may be totally different than the way he wired anyone else with that gift. In other words, the spiritual gift of teaching or encouragement or discernment won’t be presented or “opened” in the same way by any two individuals.

Diversity, especially in these often divisive times, is too often seen as a bad thing. But God knit us in the womb to be different and unique. Not only should that diversity be celebrated, as we each use our gifts in the way God wants, that diversity will actually unite us and help bring God’s kingdom on Earth to fruition.

-Lauree Padgett

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