By Stuart Swartzentruber
Most of us celebrate diversity most of the time. We drive long distances to see the brilliant colours of the oak, maple, birch, poplar or evergreen trees. Through human intervention we can now enjoy over 7500 varieties of apples in our world! And who doesn’t enjoy a hobby like birding or hiking where we experience the glory of God’s diverse creation?
Is it possible that the world God created was intended to mature into a beautiful diversity of plants, animals and people all worshipping their Creator? We lament when we see the loss of variety through the extinction of plants, animals, and cultures. We love the beauty of creation in all of its brilliance and variety.
I wonder if part of our fallen nature leads us away from diversity and variety, and toward a strict uniformity of belief and practice. Fear of losing truth and a desire for safety has kept many of us from reaching out to those different from ourselves. I have been recently challenged in how I evaluate the people and cultures around me. Is my goal and passion to see people maturing and becoming more like me? Do I think people are maturing and looking like Jesus when they start picking up my beliefs or taking on my cultural traits? Is it possible that as we grow in becoming more like Jesus, we actually expand our capacity to embrace those different from ourselves? I wonder sometimes if God doesn’t spread out specific pieces of the puzzle of His Truth among many church traditions. If we want to see the whole picture we must humbly go and learn from one another.
It is a joy for me to read reports from our staff and to see them in action at their locations. Our staff are so different from one another in their backgrounds and methodology. There is a beauty in this. I have the privilege of sitting with them, hearing their hearts for Jesus, and seeing the humility with which they pursue Jesus in partnership with others. Our staff are not perfect and we fall short many times as we seek to have a learner’s heart.
I believe that as we embrace our differences under the watchful eye of our Creator and Redeemer, the communities of faith that emerge will reflect a beauty that is not possible otherwise.
As you read the reports from the staff of LHNM, we invite you to rejoice in the many ways that God is building his kingdom in Ontario in a variety of First Nations contexts.
This Christmas, we rejoice that we have a God who entered our world as a baby; lived, died and rose again to “…ransom people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” Revelation 5:9.