One of the things that I have always enjoyed about my job is the diversity. In our short-term programming, I have often experienced theological diversity. It is not unusual to have four different church groups representing four different denominations serving together for a week. The theological diversity can be immense. I have watched as groups that come from faith backgrounds who still wonder if women can be ordained working alongside participants that come from churches that openly include gay and lesbian persons at all levels of leadership. More often than not, everyone gets along. Most walk away with a new appreciation for who might be included in the kingdom of God.
But theological diversity is only one type of diversity. There is also cultural and ethnic diversity. This is the kind of diversity that the children’s song “Jesus loves the little children” refers to – red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in his sight. This form of diversity has been equally as powerful to participate in and give witness to.
Watching as participants discover that differences in skin color, ethnicity or country of origin is not something to fear, but rather something to celebrate and enjoy has been transformative for me.
I cannot help but wonder if inclusion is the key to Christian transformation. In John 3:16, Jesus makes a reasonably inclusive declaration, “for God so loved the world.”
Is it possible that transformation (conversion) can only come about as we get to know some of the “different” people in this world that God so loved?