Necessary Diversity

I learned many lessons about God’s creation while at the University of Minnesota. Even though there is a strong emphasis on evolution being the explanation for our origins at the U, God’s beautiful and efficient design could not be hidden. In a class that studied the ecology of managed landscapes I learned about God’s design for diversity. One of the main emphases of the class was that diversity is directly related to resilience. As diversity within a population increases so does the population’s resilience to disturbance and disaster. As I pondered this I realized that this is true not only for landscapes, but also people in general and the church specifically. Thus the adage “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is wisdom that God has woven into the fabric of creation.

Where do we see this diversity? Take a walk through the woods and you will see the trees towering overhead. There will likely be 5-10 different species of trees overhead. As you look out at shoulder level there will be dozens of species of shrubs and as you look down many more plant species will be around your legs. And this is only the plants. If you sit quietly for a while many birds and possible other animals will come by and thousands of insects will buzz, crawl, and whir around you. Then kick back the leafy duff on the ground and you will see many more crawlies chewing up the dead plant material. Get out your microscope and you will see billions of lifeforms alive in the first couple inches of the soil preparing nutrients for the plants. All of these species are dependant upon each other to carry out the duties which God designed them to do.

Now take a walk in downtown Minneapolis. See the flurry of activity of business people making their way to work. See the bus driver picking up and dropping off these people. In and out amongst the traffic you see bicycle couriers delivering important packages. There is a hotdog stand feeding the people who are too busy to make their own lunch. You walk past stores filled with sales people ready to sell items needed or wanted by shoppers walking along the streets. There is the street performer reminding people that we live in a world that has beauty in it. There is a street evangelist reminding people that we live in a world created by a holy and just God and that we need to be reconciled to Him. And there is the homeless man begging for money, his dependency upon others an uneasy reminder to many of their own dependancies. All of these people dependant upon each other to carry out the duties which God designed them to do.

Now take a visit to your church. See the people at the door welcoming you in. Hear the Sunday School teachers teaching the kids. The church librarian is organizing the books and the nursery workers are taking care of the young. The prayer circle is praying for the day, the church, and the pastor. Now the worship team is leading people in worship. There is food being shared in fellowship. The men are meeting together to encourage each other with God’s word. The elders are equipping the saints, and the deacons are taking care the needs within the church. All of these parts of Christ’s body fit together, dependant upon each other to carry out the good deeds which God had prepared for them in advance.

Thus a forest filled with a myriad of plant species ranging from the lowly mosses under the leaves to the majestic oaks towering above, along with multitudes of animals, fungi, and bacteria in between will have much more resilience than a mono-cultured corn or soybean field. A city filled with multitudes of people skilled in various things will be much more resilient than a city full of accountants. And a church that is abounding with the all the parts of the body of Christ is much more resilient than the church that has many feet but no eyes.

All of this to say that God designed the pattern of necessary diversity into creation for a reason. The interdependencies diversity creates within nature, within humanity, and within the church all point to one thing, that nothing in creation is truly independent. Yet all creation is not merely interdependent upon itself as panentheism teaches (think Avatar). Rather just as a body needs a head and a stable forest needs its mature trees, and people in general need leaders, so to on a grander scale all of creation depends upon its Master and Creator, Who sustains all things. Thus in the diversity of creation we see that God has woven a fabric of interdependence that ultimately points to Him. Sadly many of our culture are seeing this interdependence and are turning to the godless pagan idea of panentheism rather than to turning to God our Creator.

So I encourage you to do two things. First, as you see the necessary diversity woven into our world and lives marvel at its beauty and declare your dependence upon the Creator of all things, Our King Jesus! Second, help your neighbors to see that higher diversity equals higher resilience and that that was God’s design from the beginning to help us see our dependence upon Him.

This is an article I wrote in our latest newsletter – Mathew

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