Unity in Diversity

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“ Abundance, Responsibility and Provision”

Bible study

Eyes closed, we listen to the reading of Genesis 2:4-25 attempting to allow our five senses to engage in this creation account. I offer this description as a picture of what I perceived through my own senses and from what I heard others share.

What started as barren and dry land is turned into fertile soil. Beauty and life, abundance and fullness are springing up from the ground culminating in the formation of man. For this man, God provides all things pleasant to see, taste, hear, smell and touch; richness is flowing in all directions while in the centre, there is a tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Yet the picture is not done. God desires more, and so, in his infinite wisdom, gives the man a vocation, a warning and a partner – one formed not of the dust, like himself, but one coming out of his own flesh.
This woman is also made in the image of God, yet unique, created to complete the developing intimate and harmonious community already present between man, a triune God and the rest of his creation.

We were then asked to take this picture as a beginning point to discuss who we are and why God has placed us here with our “embodied desires for intimacy.” Listening to my own thoughts and to those of others I am left with a few “take homes” and “wonderings” that I think can be a framework to look at more practical issues.

  • God in his goodness teaches humankind to desire good, earthly and beautiful things; why else would he provide and create such an abundance? Yet, not all created things are to be enjoyed (the fruit of the one tree is off limits) and many other aspects of creation will need continual work to be kept and maintained in their useful/intended state.
  • God gives to humankind immense responsibility and a good amount of work to do, but instills a central and visible reminder that not all things will be their “burden to carry.” The knowledge of good and evil are not intended for him to discern. I wonder if still too often we see this as a restriction rather than a provision?
  • Both females and males carry the image of God, yet are distinct. This seems to be shown both in the timing and form of their creation. This diversity is not meant to divide but be brought together in unity and vulnerability. The mystery of this seems profound, but immensely important in understanding how human intimacy is meant to be lived out. I propose that while bonding with those to whom we are more alike (uniformity) is meaningful, perhaps bonding sought in diversity is an experience that brings even more wholeness.
  • God seems to know what we will need before we are even aware of it. God sees and God provides and a deep trust and obedience in this provision seems needed in order to live in ongoing intimacy with God.
  • Using all of our senses to listen to the text is a good and helpful exercise, although not perhaps always easy as we carry all of our previous thoughts into such an exercise. This speaks to the importance of listening in community: some see and hear things others miss, some grasp concepts while others are needed to flesh them out. There is no shame or pride in this, it’s how the body is meant to work together.

Jacqueline Block is a member of Faith River Fellowship, Saskatoon.

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