Nov 9 2011

Embracing Diversity

“How many are your works, O Lord!” (Psalm 104:24)

We truly do live in a remarkable and diverse world.  I did a few Google searches and discovered that there are an estimated 1.5 million different plant and animal species in the world today.  There are over 10,000 different species of birds and an incredible 900,000 different species of insects.  The various species of flowering plants number around 400,000.  There are 25,000 different kinds of cherries and 264 different kinds of monkeys.  The estimated number of different trees is in the tens of thousands.

These numbers not only speak of our planet’s amazing diversity, they also tell us much about its Creator.  How can anyone look at the earth’s biological makeup and not conclude that God values diversity?  As the Creator God could certainly have settled for five or ten different species of mammals but we know of approximately 4,260.  Had God wanted to He might have created only thirty or forty different species of fish; instead there are around 32,000.  There’s just no getting around it; God is definitely into diversity.

When we recognize this about God it may lead us in a couple of different directions.   It might humble us and cause us to offer this creative God words of adoration and praise.  Certainly God is worthy of such praise.  It might also cause us to question how open to diversity we are.   As humans created in the image of God should we not prize or value diversity as well?

In her book, Claiming Earth as Common Ground, Andrea Cohen-Kiener writes “Just as in the natural world, our diversity is a treasure, not a plague.  If we look at species of bugs and plants, life flourishes in unique cracks and crannies, from the desert dune to the deep, deep sea.  God, it seems, treasures diversity more than we do.”  I’m afraid Andrea is right.  God does, in fact, seem to treasure diversity more than we do.  But is that the way it is meant to be?  I doubt it.   I can’t help but believe that each of us would benefit from seeking to embrace more diversity in our lives.  We tend to share friendships primarily with people who are “like us.”  Many people have a very limited range of interests.  They eat the same kinds of food all of the time, listen to the same types of music and read the same sort of books.  Our lives would be far richer and broader if we sought to be more like the Creator of heaven and earth.  Are there ways you might begin to embrace more diversity?  If so, what’s stopping you from doing so? 

Recognizing God’s propensity for diversity should also cause us to do all that we can to preserve the various species He has created.  Many species today are threatened or endangered due to habitat loss, pollution, climate change and illegal poaching.  Should this concern us?  If we share God’s love and concern for diversity the answer is a resounding “Yes”.  As a result, we must not only embrace diversity but also seek to perpetuate it.

–Chuck

(For this entry I’ve chosen a “diversity” of species I’ve had the privilege to photograph: a bull elk, an indigo bunting, a tiger lily, and an alligator.)