I listened recently to the great Paul Harvey’s television commentary on the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Later in the day, I heard some members of Congress talk about the meaning of diversity in our nation. I learned something: what unity meant in the beginning and how the word is used today are far from the same.
Here’s an example. The unity that brought the attorneys, the jurists, the plantation owners, and the community leaders from the 13 colonies together was not their diversity, but their common vision of a life without the tyranny of King George’s taxation. They pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to create a liberty for all people.
The core value of this nation - that all men are created equal - does not espouse that every person should have everything anyone else has, but that each person has the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. The key is opportunity not a guarantee. This republic is built on such a radical principle.
The church also needs to be ready to live out its uniqueness. We are ready for people who will not say what the people of their congregations want to hear, but will pledge themselves to preaching the freedom that it is in Christ for all people. To tell the truth at any cost and not to appeal to those who want a “safe Gospel.” Paul wrote to the Galatians and reminded them that the real Gospel is not with the winning words of man’s wisdom, but with the truth of Christ’s life, death, burial and resurrection. Simple words, “Christ has set you free; don’t become enslaved again to sin.”
We are to live out the transforming love of Christ which redeems us from our sins not the conforming culture of a world that begs to have its sins tolerated and honored in the name of Christian unity. We are diverse because we are each sinners, but God’s love calls us to be unified by His forgiveness and find unity in the one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all…(Ephesians 4:4-6).
What makes us one? Faith in the resurrected Christ is the answer! That unity removes our diversity and makes us one. That is not by our choice but by the power of the transformation from our former alliance to sin and our new relationship to Christ.
Can this model of unity be used to guide our national struggle to bring us together? Our founding Fathers thought so. When we can stop angrily yelling at each other and learn to pledge ourselves to working together, perhaps we will discover the genius that created this great nation.
Perhaps the church can rise and lead the reconciliation so desperately needed in our nation. I certainly hope so!