2018-12-05 / Religion

Pastor's Viewpoint

By Charles Buddy Whatley

Diversity, in general, describes the variety of people living around us as defined by what we see when we look at them. Researchers at John Hopkins go on to talk about the visible and invisible aspects of diversity. They list 16 aspects of diversity; age, gender identity or expression, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, mental and physical ability, race and ethnicity, education, political beliefs, family, organization role, language and communication skills, income, religion, appearance, and work experience.

As a reader and writer, gender is really a grammatical term. As a scientist and Christian, sex is rather straightforward and visible; God created us male and female. Age might seem to be an invisible aspect of diversity, but it’s generally visible… at least in my mirror. Race and ethnicity would seem to be visible, but some of us have been surprised by the results of an ancestry test of our DNA.

Education and income would seem to be invisible, but we can generally “see” education in a person’s speech and income in a person’s possessions. But I was standing on a sidewalk watching several Mercedes roll by and made a comment about them. The man beside me pointed to one and told me the driver parked it in a neighbor’s garage to keep the bank from repossessing it. We can be misled by people who want to appear to be something they are not… so visible and invisible can be confusing.

Something similar is true of our beliefs about a God who is both visible and invisible, “[15] The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [16] For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. [17] He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” (Colossians 1)

Advent, beginning on Sunday, December 2, celebrates a time when the invisible God became visible. And Christmas is our celebration of an invisible God who took on flesh, was born as a human baby, and grew up to live among us. God the Father is invisible, but God the Son is absolutely visible… God with us!

There is another sort of visibility. The Holy Spirit is invisible, but we can see visible evidence of the Spirit’s presence. The Bible compares God’s Spirit to the wind; we can’t see it, but we can see the tops of the trees moving. And we can see an invisible God in the lives of his people… in a church that paid for my new tires while I was in seminary, in a stranger who gave my friend a kidney, and in a thousand other expressions of love!

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