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Celebrating Diversity
Dr. Michael D. Thomas

Each one of us is made of about ten trillion cells, all of whom work together to form the body that we recognize as ourselves. While there are great similarities between each of us, there are also significant differences. We are all unique, special individuals. Even twins are not duplicates of each other. Our diversity is a great strength. We tend however, not to celebrate our diversity, but rather, to punish it.

It may be human nature to be suspicious of those who act or look different from us. It is not however, our divine nature. Though we are enjoined by Christ to tolerate others, and not to judge, as a practical matter, most of us do. We can find ourselves fearful of those who are different from what we know. If someone is seen as being outside of our frame of reference, we don’t know what to expect from them. Further, we often will attempt to protect ourselves by making any difference wrong or bad. It isn’t such a big step to go from this judgment to actively punishing diversity in others.

In our own bodies, there are many different kinds of cells. Each one is needed to make the whole that we are. A liver cell isn’t better or worse than a skin cell. Each kind of cell is important to the overall function of our organism. And, each one of us is vital to the Body of Christ that we are all a part of. Each cell has a slightly different function in relation to the whole organism. Each of us has been created with a unique possibility. Our lives unfold in pursuit of our possibilities. No one can tell another what their purpose is. That knowledge rests only within each of us, waiting to be discovered, waiting to be fulfilled.

If we deny what is special inside us, we deny the possibility of unfolding that potential in the world. If we are blind to our own potentials, we are unlikely to appreciate the potentials of others. If we are afraid of what lies deep within us, we will be afraid of what is inside those around us. If we believe only that we are mobile bags of meat, we will miss the true possibility that we are each Children of God, made in His Image.

Our potential for transformation is ever present, waiting. If we cant see the potential for transformation in others, we judge them as nothing more than what we can see. Our actions with others constrain them to the product of the past. How often do we limit the behavior of those around us? How often do we do it in the name of love when its really a product of fear or dim vision?

What if we saw ourselves as sacred beings, made in Gods image with unlimited potential? What if we saw the same potential in everyone we met and we actively engendered that vision in our words and actions? What kind of society might result from this radical behavior? It takes a real leap of faith to relate to everyone we meet with as our brothers and sisters. There is a risk involved in making eye contact with the homeless. You might have to acknowledge that they are human beings who are connected with Gods Love in their hearts too. It might not be so easy to just write off large portions of the population as being beneath the need to care about them. In the U.S., we jail a greater percentage of our population than any other country in the world; more than the Soviet Union did at its height of power. This isn’t a plea to coddle criminal behavior. It might however, be a wake-up call that something is very wrong. Love is a connective force. Fear, hatred and dismissal create separation. Long ago, the lone voice of a carpenters son called for a life predicated in Love. That voice has resonated down through time and now his message is heard throughout the entire world. This message only comes alive when it is acted on by you and me. Take the risk. Make Jesus message live in your heart. Make it real with your words and actions.