Like so many concepts, respect and appreciation of diversity is often spoken of as it is new. It is not. It was there from the beginning with God. God is one but He is so beyond us all that one way to realize His greatness is through ALL that He has created.
Let’s first start some nature facts-
17,000 – Different species of butterflies
73,000 - Different species of trees
369,000 - Different species of flowering plants
12,000 - Different species of grass
11,000 - Different species of birds
Definition of species Dictionary.com – “A group of living organisms consisting of a similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding. The species is the principal natural taxonomic unit, ranking below a genus and denoted by a Latin binomial, e.g., Homo sapiens”
We are Homo sapiens, meaning that we are one species. The above examples of life are earth have thousands of species. Thus, we are more the same than the genus of birds and other living things. In short, we humans have the most in common with each other. There have been racist attempts in the past (and current) to state that races are different species or subhuman, which would thus validate treating them differently. This separation is not only among what we traditionally think of as different races. Europeans have been at war with Europeans in other countries for centuries. The group referred to in this country as “Asians” have a similar horrible history with each other. African nations have also treated members of other African nations with great cruelty. Many working on the Human Genome Project sought to determine fundamental differences between races. However, a lead researcher with the Human Genome Project, Dr. Lindquist states:
“Indeed, those difference do exist, but they derive from the junk regions of the genetic code that are free to vary precisely because they don’t do anything important. In truth, where it matters, human beings differ from each other hardly at all. That doesn’t mean we are “our brother’s keepers’: it means we practically are brothers. The “family of man” is not a cliché but an irrefutable fact. This seems to go against the grain for many nonscientists. When they look around, they see people who are clearly unique.” (Lindquist, Strong unity, rich diversity: the Human Genome project- brief article in Black Issues in Higher Education, 2000).
Scientist have looked at mitochondria, which is only inherited from the mother. What they found is that one mitochondria DNA strain is found in all humans. They have nicknamed her “Mitochondrial Eve” because all recent humans descended from her. Once again, science must, often reluctantly, confirm the Biblical story of creation. Thus, since we are all from the same woman, we are all related.
Both are true, we are diverse and we are the same. Why the diversity? Because there is beauty in diversity, it shows that God is an artist who creates many types of beautiful things. He is not content to simply produce replicas of past work, any more than a musician would keep writing the same song or a painter the same painting.
Beyond the aesthetics of diversity, there is, as always with God, a practical matter. We all have different spiritual gifts given to us by God because we all need each other to make a better world for us all. Some people are the best mechanics, some the best singers, some the best inventors, some the best at spreading the Gospel, and some are best at providing comfort to others. What company could be successful if everyone did the exact same job? What country can thrive without the diverse skills of its citizens? When the world works together, each country doing what it does best and sharing with others, we all benefit.
Problems arise when we decide that some spiritual gifts are more important than others. It is more important to be good in math than to be good in sports. It is more important to get good grades in school than to be compassionate with others. It is more important to be attractive than be good with working with one’s hands. The world needs more scientists, but not more artists. One race is superior to another race. One sex is superior to the other. The people in one region of a country are better than another.
The first diversity God created in humans were men and women. These differences are not superficial but anatomical and physiological. Without these differences, there is no propagation of the species. The difference is essential to survival and multiplying. Children can benefit from having both males and females in their upbringing.
So, what does the Bible teach us about diversity, about its Heavenly design and purpose? It both celebrates diversity and our oneness.
For our uniqueness, the Bible states:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16- NIV)
In an analogy to our differences and the importance of these differences, see the wisdom of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12: 1-31 (NIV)-
“ Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.”
In this quote, God discusses both the necessary and beautiful difference between humans but are essential together in Christ. But as God is the creator of diversity in the world and among humans, He wants us to know that despite these differences we are still one with Him. In Revelation 7:9-10 NIV,
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb”
Galatians 3:28 NIV – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
If God created and celebrated diversity and wants us to all to be as one with Him, then why all the strife between people. In the book of Obadiah, the people of Edom are descendants of Esau and the people of Israel the descendants of Jacob. Esau and Jacob were twin fraternal brothers, sons of Isaac. Residents of Edom thought they were better than the people of Israel. The people of Edom despised the people of Israel and were gleeful every time Israel was attacked. Thus, the people of Edom and Israel are not only NOT different races or ethnicities, but they are also family, specifically cousins. Yet generations after the initial strife between the two brothers concerning Jacob’s actions, the people of Edom still burn with hatred. Edom so hated Israel that when the Babylon invaded and conquered Israel, they did not come to their assistance for their own family but were glad and took advantage of it by pillaging their other towns in Israel.
Who is responsible for this hatred? It is not God, who loves all equally. The one who benefits from this strife is Satan. He is the one who enjoys pitting God’s creation against each other. Now, Satan is not all powerful, he cannot make anyone do anything. He is preying on human weakness, human sins. He thus encourages our sins, the worst in us. He is also not alone. One third of the angels followed him in defiance of God and now work for Satan. Like any organization, it is possible that the demons of Satan specialize- one working on sexism, one on racism, one on xenophobia.
Thus, even those who call themselves Christians have historically shown inhumanity to others, to those who are not the same race, nationality, religion, or sadly even other Christian denominations. This is because Christians are still sinners, still subject to the influence of evil. It is also the fact that all who call themselves Christians are not truly embracing the words or practices that Jesus taught. The Bible is rife with examples of God saying to those fake faithful that He will not recognize them, no matter what ritual or spectacle they publicly make of their faith.
And what better way to discredit Christ’s teachings than to use evil to influence its political and religious leaders? If they are thus seen doing evil things, then people will say the entire idea is corrupt. Did not “Christians” in the United States support and justify slavery? Have not countries shown great cruelty to others, under the guise of Christianity? It is very efficient of Satan to go after those who influence many. These false prophets are discussed throughout the Bible. They want us to hate each other along any lines we care to draw. Together we can be strong in the face of evil and with God, divided we are easier to conquer. So busy hating or looking down on each other, that lose sight of our true mutual common enemy.
Here are just a few of the quotes about these false prophets, all chosen by me from different books to show its importance. All are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV).
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone into the world” 1 John 4:1
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So, it is no surprise if his servants, also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15,
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suite their own passions” 2 Timothy 4:3
“Its heads give judgment for a bribe; its priest teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the Lord and say, “It is not the Lord in the midst of us” No disaster shall come upon us” Micah 3:11
“As for the person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:10-11
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places” Ephesians 6:12
We have free will. It is true that many of our leaders are corrupt and teach falsehoods, but we cannot blame "the system" for all our behaviors. We must look at our own individual behavior toward others. We can be as one with all humans or separate ourselves and displease Christ.
Now, to be clear accepting diversity of humans is NOT to accept any behavior. That is the false theme of our times. But looking at what you deem to be unacceptable sinful behavior, one must be careful of not hating or being cruel to the person committing the sin. In John 8:1-11, Jesus says to those about to stone the adulterous woman that the one who is sinless should cast the first stone. They depart. This can be misinterpreted that Jesus did not consider her behavior a sin worthy of punishment. Jesus tells the woman that He does not condemn her BUT THEN tells her to sin no more. One can recognize sin as sin, but still love the sinner. God knows our sins but still loves us and that should be an example of how we treat each other.
Diversity is all around us. It is holy because it was made by God. It pleases God. We should have appreciation of the nature around us and each other. Diversity is everywhere because God is everywhere.