Diversity in a church is important and that usually means things like racial diversity or whether there are gay couples in the pews, which is all important and the sort of thing I look for in a congregation.
But we seem to still want us to be all of one mind.
Some of this is practical, I suppose. A congregation that agrees on how to approach hunger issues is able to focus their time, talent, and money in that direction and so there may be visible results. We raised this much money to this end. We made this number of items to send to this place. This individual and this individual, they were helped by what we did. I cannot find much fault in this (unless I want to get into the sort of pride that becomes more about what we did and less about the people who is being served---but that's perhaps another blog post).
This past year, so much was written about the Syrian refugee crisis. On my Facebook newsfeed, there developed two dominant strains of what to do about it. One was to welcome refugees into our nation, help them get resettled here. The other was saying the better way to help them was to send aid to Syria, to help them with resources there or at least closer by to Syria.
All the details of those arguments, and there are endless details, are not my point this morning. What bothered me in seeing these arguments was how many people were adamantly saying one was the way to help and the other was fruitless. One was a waste of resources, the other the best use of resources. One was dangerous, the other safer. Most problematic, to my mind, was that one was considered the "liberal" response, the other the "conservative" response.
I found myself thinking: Surely some need to get away and be resettled here and we need to help them. And surely some will not be able to get away and they will need just as much if not more help there. Why is it either/or? It should be both/and.
And they should not be politicized as the Democrat or Republican responses.
The refugee crisis is only an example. There are other places that we spend too much time arguing about the correct way to help. Is it better to give directly to the homeless on the street or to the organizations set up to help the homeless? Is it better to give to cancer research or to organizations that support cancer patients? Or AIDS research/patients? Or work in the local community garden or work for a political lobby group on food issues? Or . . .
I suppose the questions basically can be divided into serving locally or globally.
Christian scripture and tradition speaks of the Church as the Body of Christ, many members but one body. Many functions to be performed, but one Spirit that animates the work done. The liver and kidneys both work to purify the blood supply, but if one or the other are failing, the way the other does it will not suffice. We need both ways they work or the whole body dies.
So this brings us to calling or vocation. It's nothing new to say that we need to listen to where the Spirit is leading us to serve. There is pretty good theology in existence that covers the notion that some are called to the humanities, some to the sciences, some to whatever doesn't fit under those headings.
That theology doesn't seem to get applied to the issues around how we approach individual issues. It seems to me that we want our churches to have a particular focus on how we help and that diversity on approaches is discouraged.
I would submit that we need to continue to listen to where the Spirit leads us and follow. The point isn't what other people are doing, what the official party line is. The point of a calling is to follow it. I don't think making justifications for your calling matter. Certainly arguing about how your calling is more important than someone else's gets us nowhere.
Support aid to refugees who cannot get out of Syria, if that's where you feel the Spirit calling you. Surely that's needed. Give directly to the homeless on the street. Surely the organizations set up to aid are not meeting every need. Do so with humility that your way may not be the "best" way, but with the understanding that the calling is not in the least a useless way.
Every calling counts. Every way to serve counts. Some will have larger impacts, other smaller, but we need this diversity of vocations in the church. Without it, we will surely die.