by Amos Smith
The early church was about the inclusive love of Jesus that broke down walls between people! I think this was the miracle of the early church—that Jews and Gentiles, bonded and free, male and female, all worshiped under the same roof (Galatians 3:28). This was unheard of in the highly stratified society of Jesus’ time!
I have observed newcomers to Church of the Painted Hills, UCC in Tucson, Arizona, where I’m the pastor. They take one look around and get a sense of the diversity. And they either like it or they don’t.
Diversity comes in many different forms. There is diversity in politics, cultural background, length of church membership, ethnicity, economic class, type of family (traditional, blended, adoptive, et cetera), level of education, marital status, gender, age, theology, sexual orientation, musical taste, number of years in Arizona, and the list goes on…
One of the things I most appreciate about Church of the Painted Hills is our diversity. Diversity requires a higher level of maturity than homogeneity. People who genuinely tolerate diversity are comfortable enough in their own skin that they are not threatened by multiplicity. Just the other day someone came to me and disagreed with my point of view. This happens at least once a month from various people at Painted Hills and I find the candor refreshing. I prefer the tossed salad, where the tomato remains a tomato, the lettuce, lettuce, and the walnuts, walnuts. Otherwise everything blends together in a big soup. That’s much less interesting!
Let’s stay close to the tossed salad and to the inclusive love of Jesus!