The seal of the United States of America contains the words “E Pluribis Unum.” I know nothing about Latin, but I am told those words mean “Out of many, one” (alternatively translated as “One out of many” or “One from many”). The idea is simple to understand. This country is a diverse groups of states with numerous cities that all make up one unified country. In order for this country to be great we must learn to work together.
I must admit that every time I read those words I do not think of the United States but rather the Church. The church is a diverse collection of individuals who are united by the salvation Jesus offers us through the cross. We are a group of people with different ages, skin colors, backgrounds, genders and a dozen other different things. One thing that I have found to be true through the years is that each person has their own unique set of beliefs too. While we may all agree on the big stuff of faith there is a vast array of beliefs on other things. Each person is a conglomeration of what they learned at Church, from their parents, in their experiences and any other source that taught them about faith.
I believe that each person in the Church has a decision to make about how we view other people in our community:
1. We can choose to focus on our differences. We can spend our time trying to correct other people’s views so that they align exactly with ours. We can serve as a watchdog on faith in our community of believers.
2. We can choose to focus on our similarities. We can spend our time focusing our attention on those beliefs of which we can all agree. We can open our arms to diversity and try to learn from each other in our community of believers.
Please hear me clearly, I am not saying that doctrine is not important and that we should not all strive to learn exactly what the Bible is teaching. I am saying we can set our minds on trying to learn from one another. We can help each other on this journey of faith. We can study together, pray together and serve together without total agreement on everything. That way the next time you encounter someone who views something different from you is an opportunity for discussion and growth rather than criticism and division.
My hope is that the Church will be a place where people can think, learn and grow and that we can do it together. My prayer is that our diversity will not keep us from unity.
The founders of our country were correct in their thinking. This country needs to come together in our diversity to form one great nation. I also believe the founder of the Church had the same idea first.