As the COVID pandemic spread around the globe, my world became flat.
In May 2020 I suffered a retinal detachment that multiple surgeries could not repair. I’m grateful for 20:20 vision in my good eye but I discovered that my ability to play racket sports faced new limitations. I could no longer easily see my relationship to a ball in play. My visual world became flatter. It became much harder to judge not only an oncoming ball but anything else that required depth perception.
It’s easy to take for granted that God made us to see the world with two eyes. Each of our eyes sees the world from slightly different points of view, and that information is integrated by our visual system to form three-dimensional images of the world around us. With only one eye, as I discovered, the world looks very different—it loses its dimensionality. We lose vital nuance and depth.
Community of Diversity
Human beings were created for community.
One of God’s greatest gifts of being human is the gift of the other. That is particularly true in the creation of male and female. Jocelyn and I have been married for forty-three years. It took me some time to appreciate how our differences—including the way we look at the world—enrich our relationship and how, as a result, we interact with the world around us.
What is true of marriage is true of the gift of other people. We need others to help us rightly see the world around us. Without other perspectives, our view of the world flattens out. Very likely too flat. Without different perspectives, we lose vital nuance and depth. The political, moral, and social debates of our day polarize us into groups that see and share only one point-of-view.
With our present polarization and to some degree demonization of differing views we are in danger of losing the ability to see the world stereoscopically.
The Gospel Isn’t Flat
What I love about the gospel of Jesus is that it offers not only a picture of a glorious future, but that it gives us a way to begin today. Jesus is the integrating centre for humanity. And his process starts with “two or three.” In the congregations I pastored there were multiple levels of differences—education, gender, ethnicity, life experience, or convictions—united around the belief that Jesus is the Saviour, the Son of God. Grace looks through another’s perspective, and having our vision broadened in the process to see the world with depth and nuance.
God’s plan for the Church is to bring together the intentionally disparate and seemingly irreconcilable elements of human society and live in peace. That requires us to look for what is best in another’s perspective rather than what is worst. And it requires courage in us to find points of agreement with a different point of view.
Find someone you know who follows Jesus and who holds a different perspective from you on an important political, social, or cultural matter. Ask that person for a conversation to learn more about their perspective. In your conversation, focus on trying to understand their position. Try and state their position back to them, and ask the question, “Do I have this right about what you believe?”
You do not need to agree with them, but simply focus on trying to understand their perspective.
What are you waiting for?
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Unity is diversity in harmony…but requires maturity!