I look around me and see fragments everywhere. I see fault lines, fractures, fissures, and lines drawn in the sand. Dark, bold imaginary lines divide spaces between nations and peoples. If we would just lift the modern grid that brackets the world into categories and territories, we would realize that we all inhabit the same space, one earth, and one planet. When it benefits us the most we ignore the basic characteristics that we all share as humankind and when it benefits us the least we focus on the need to be synchronized, to be similar, and accepted into the unspoken order of passive agreement. We forego the opportunity to celebrate the rich colors of our diversity for the chance to be uniform and accept the passive modes of our society as an illusion of peace. When we look at our diversity all we see is cause for division and conflict without resolution; we hold tightly to our own versions of the truth without first seeking something higher. We cannot come down from our own platforms of righteousness, look each other in the eye, and take time to listen, and to understand. So with an eerie uniformity we staunchly maintain our barriers.
I want to put the pieces together, but not in the way that would result in a whole picture. I don’t want to assume that my picture of wholeness is right for everyone. I would to put the pieces together so that they make a picture all their own; the pieces will determine the result. There is no foreknowledge of this picture, other than that it is meant to be a whole picture. Those who are putting the pieces together cannot see what it being made. All they know is that there is something right about coming together for one purpose: to put the pieces together after years and years of separation. Unity without uniformity and diversity without division; this is all we know of our picture.
As God’s people we are at the front-center of this project. We have been called as the body of Christ to unite underneath the umbrella of God’s grace and mercy. Yet, as Christians, we know how easily a group will divide. Our family has experienced schism after schism and separation after separation. We are a diverse and dysfunctional group with our own boundaries and lines drawn in the sand. We take sides and go our separate ways without recalling the crux of our identity. There is one God, one Spirit, one Savior, and one body. No matter how far we separate from one another this will never be any less true. We work together despite our diversity, as each does its part we build up the kingdom of God. Listen to the words of St. Paul:
"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many," (1 Corinthians 12: 12-14).
Let our churches and communities celebrate the diversity in which God, through one Spirit, bestowed upon us. Our gifts, our strengths, and our personalities give witness to the colorful brush strokes of our creator, God. They are not placed within us to divide, separate, and fence out. The Spirit guides the work of each as it does its part in bringing in the kingdom of God. Our diversity becomes a burden only when we begin to see different parts as inferior. Our own sense of superiority and power begins to break down the arrangement God initially laid down for the body of Christ. Paul warns against this when he says,
“But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another,” (1 Corinthians 12:24b-25).
Human conceptions of power and hierarchy have no place in Christ’s body.
Let us not worry about the scars and jagged pieces that are being placed together. Let them remain so that future generations will understand the consequences of division born of power and misunderstanding. Let’s give our children a picture of random, jagged pieces that have come together in an exquisitely flawless landscape. Let us give them a recklessly beautiful picture of brokenness, of redemption, of longing, and of fulfillment. And may they finally begin to erase those lines we have drawn in the sand.