John Morrison -5 March 2017

Dear Friends

One of the popular spots in the under- cover meal shed at camp last weekend was the jigsaw table. One complicated 500-piece jigsaw was completed on the first night and a number of others were put together over the course of the weekend.

The first couple were colourful montages of different animals, birds and plants. As well as being quite beautiful pictures, they depicted the amazing diversity of the natural world. They reminded me of the awesome creativity of God who, in the beginning, “made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind” (Genesis 1:24) and “plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it.” (Genesis 1:12)

As I worked with others on the first puzzle, our diversity also struck me. The amazing creativity of God again! There were obvious differences in such characteristics as age, gender and personality, but more subtle variations as well. I noticed, for example, different methods – some tended to take a piece and try to find where it fitted; others would go looking for the next piece to add into their section; some focused on colour or pattern; some worked on shape.

As we all cooperated together, the picture took shape. At the end, however, there were three pieces missing. A diligent search under and around the table located them and with relief and celebration, the puzzle was completed.

It reminded me of an experience several years ago in my previous church. I had been preaching a series on the church as a body and, as an illustration, had distributed pieces of my favourite puzzle to people with instructions to bring them to our next gathering when we would assemble the picture.

Unfortunately, some didn’t attend or left their pieces behind, and the puzzle wasn’t complete. Not quite the illustration I had intended, but a powerful one nonetheless. I still grieve that there are pieces out there somewhere that are no longer part of the picture.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul has a masterful treatment of the importance of diversity and unity. He emphasises not only the variety of spiritual gifts, services and activities but their necessity. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:8) So, like pieces of the jigsaw, we all have a place in the body and an important part to play. Diversity is not an unfortunate aspect to be minimised, but one to be fostered and celebrated. After all, it is the idea and method of the creative Creator.

As a member of one of the exemplary churches Diana Butler Bass researched told her: “It’s not just a matter of tolerating differences or accepting differences; it’s appreciating differences for the richness that they bring to our community”.

Vive la difference!