True Diversity in the Christian Life
Excerpts from the Address to the Graduates, June 22, 2018
God must love diversity because he certainly went out of his way to create a lot of it. Each and every person in this room is different from one another. And so is every flower, every bird, every star, and so on.
The New Testament uses a wonderful and effective image to describe God’s intention for how diversity should function in a Christian community. It is also a good model for how differences could be regarded in society as well. We read in First Corinthians, chapter twelve and verse twelve: 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.
The church in the ancient Greek city of Corinth was passionate and engaged. And yet unhealthy division was tearing them apart due to misguided leadership loyalties and how they regarded some spiritual gifts (or abilities) as superior over others. The body metaphor is used in order to correct their thinking and impress upon them God’s desire for unity in diversity. Just like the parts of a human body are so very different from one another, they are nonetheless equally part of the body and are all essential to fulfilling the body’s overall created purpose.
To our graduates: Only God knows what is actually in store for each of you. Yet I can safely say that you will not be able to fulfill your God-given call unless you come to terms with the unique way he has made you. Your uniqueness is by design and has a special place within our complex world.
It’s interesting how diversity has become such a high value in our society today. And while “inclusion” and “celebration of differences” sound good, there is something in particular that you have learned here at St. Timothy’s, without which our culture’s version of diversity will result in—not freedom to express our God-given differences—but an oppressive uniformity as more and more people will be forced into sameness.
St. Timothy’s has taught you that not all diversity is of equal value. The school’s motto, Leading students to reverence truth, desire goodness, rejoice in beauty, reminds us that there exist objective standards of excellence. If there is truth, goodness, and beauty, then there are those things that meet those standards and other things which do not. Not everything in the world is true, good, and beautiful. The world is also full of lies, evil, and brokenness of many kinds. Not all statements are equally true. Not all activities equally good. Diversity without discernment is highly destructive.
The world will seek to draw you into a fuzziness of falsehood, doping you through all sorts of distractions in order to manipulate you. But you needn’t fall for this. St. Timothy’s has equipped you to not only resist the encroaching darkness but be emissaries of light to rescue others by calling them to what is true, good, and beautiful.
That you have been given a special gift as stated through the school’s motto is clear. Day after day we teachers have striven to teach you what is true, good, and beautiful. But there is something else you have learned here, of which you may not be fully aware. It’s something not talked about that much. Yet, you have experienced it each and every day of your time here. It’s diversity. Authentic diversity. The kind of diversity God calls for. Your experience of unity in diversity at St. Timothy’s is indeed unusually precious, the result of God’s special blessing. As you move on to the next chapter of your lives, may you carry this unusual precious blessing wherever you go. Congratulations!
Alan Gilman teaches a weekly Bible class to our grades 5-8 students.