From Part 1 it should be obvious that i’m a fan of fully exercised diversity (above and beyond a lip service to the societal value of diversity). So, what is brilliant about it? Why did i choose the word ‘brilliance’ to describe diversity?
Well, brilliant has a couple meanings. One is glittering or resplendent and another is displaying mental keenness or striking intelligence. I believe rightly exercised diversity is brilliant in both senses. It is ‘shining’ and it displays someone’s mental brilliance. The latter of these, of course, begs the question “Whose mental brilliance?”
Well, that would need to apply to anyone who thought of the idea, but more so to whoever originated the idea. Certainly there a lot of modern proponents of diversity, but what if we look back more than a few hundred years? I don’t claim to know all of the people throughout history who might have proposed the value of diversity, but I do know of one who predates all modern philosophy and sociology.
The author of the biblical books of Romans, 1 Corinthians & Ephesians instructed Christians to value diversity about 2000 years ago. This being the case, i’d like to propose that valuing diversity was God’s idea before we became ‘enlightened’ later in history. (If you don’t buy that God is the source of the bible then either it was just Paul’s idea or some anonymous writer of these books fictitiously attributed to Paul, but still it is not just a modern idea!)
I think the passage that best illustrates my point is Ephesians 3:10. This passage is fairly well known but usually taught out of context. Here the author says “His [God's] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known.” Excellent so the church is supposed to display God’s wisdom – this would seem obvious to Christians already. But what is the context? He talks about a gospel and a mystery, and it would be easy to just assume he’s talking about the general gospel message and leave it at that. But look more carefully at the context – what comes before and what comes after. Especially verse 6 where he tells us straight out what the mystery is: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” The mystery was that God was bringing ethnically and culturally diverse people TOGETHER through Jesus.
If that doesn’t make HOW God’s wisdom is to be displayed in the church clear enough by itself let’s put all of chapter 3 in context. Chapter three starts off with ‘For this reason . . . ” For what reason? Clearly he’s building on what he just said before that which is:
For he himself [Jesus] is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, . . . His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
And if this isn’t enough, what does Paul talk about in chapter 4 – the stuff that comes right after chapter 3? He talks about unity and serving each other and diversity of talents and ministries and how God wants to use diverse people working together to make all of us stronger.
So, let’s get back to 3:10 – HOW is the church intended to demonstrate God’s wisdom? Through it’s diversity AND unity at the same time! Brilliant! God is wise. But he wants to demonstrate this wisdom (at least in part) through diversity rightly and fully exercised. The church is to be brilliant (resplendent, shining) in order to display God’s brilliance (amazing wisdom, dazzling intellect).
But this can’t happen if diverse people simply choose to live separately ‘in peace’, claiming to think diversity is important, but never actually sharing life with people who are different from themselves. If we are to demonstrate God’s wisdom and experience all the benefits he designed we can’t just be diverse, we have to be diverse AND together.