Variety. Shadings of lights and darks. Contrasting and complementing colors. Interplay of heights and depths. All these give beauty to a work of art. Whether it is modern or classic, whether it takes the form of painting, sculpture, tapestry, or symphony—what gives interest is the harmonious blending of all the composite elements. In a word, the texture.
How drab and dull would be a creation incorporating no variety, diversity, or contrast! Mind—the infinite, divine intelligence—manifests itself in a spiritual creation replete with the beauty of texture—diversity, individuality, form, color, unlimited dimension. Yet how often do we find ourselves almost wishing that everyone else thought in the same patterns we do? Wouldn't it be wonderful, we muse, if everybody saw things the way we do, were motivated by the same things we are motivated by, acted as we act, liked the same things we like. What a vacuous wish that turns out to be! How much more joyous life is when we learn to relish the diversity of God's infinitely individual creation.
It is our appreciation of the texture of creation that breathes life into our relationships with one another. It is the appreciation of God's infinite expression that warms the heart with love, that fills the home with joy, and that refreshes the church with inspiration.
The real life of each of us is the individualized unfoldment of God, the divine Mind. Mind's infinite individuality, reflected in man, is what causes us to express God and His love, His intelligence, His purity, in a manner distinct from that of each other identity in creation. And this is good! Our spiritual progress is the individual discovery of what Mind has already done. This progressive revelation gives freshness, vitality, and inspiration to all our relations with others.
Something of the diversity or texture of God's spiritual creation is hinted at in the twelfth chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Here he speaks of "diversities of gifts," "differences of administrations," and "diversities of operations." Yet, he affirms, "It is the same God which worketh all in all."See l Cor. 12:1-6.
And in Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes in her spiritual interpretation of the account of creation in Genesis: "Spirit diversifies, classifies, and individualizes all thoughts, which are as eternal as the Mind conceiving them; but the intelligence, existence, and continuity of all individuality remain in God, who is the divinely creative Principle thereof."Science and Health, p. 513.
Doesn't this indicate how we can bring out greater inspiration, activity, and interest in our church work? To know that we have no intelligence of our own separate from God and to know this is true of everyone is to have a right basis for enjoying and even encouraging a diversity of expression, as well as unity of action. The actual identity of each member is reflective of the divine Mind's infinite individuality. Creation is ever unfolding to all Mind's distinct and original ideas. What each of us is witnessing as we grow Spiritward through Christian Science is an increasing awareness of what Mind is knowing and doing.
In a way, it's as though we are peeling away the chaff to see more clearly the grain of our true being. And being is a very active thing! In Acts, Paul says of God, "In him we live, and move, and have our being."Acts 17:28. Each individual idea of God is active in his original unfolding expression of God's being. Therefore it's natural that each one of us expresses the fresh ideas, the original concepts, that are constantly coming to thought from Mind.
A recognition of the infinite individuality of God and man makes for unity of expression in church work, too. In Mind, unity comes in diversity. As we present ideas that come to us, we can quietly trust divine Mind to govern—and also trust the intelligence that each member derives from God. Recognition of the oneness and infinitude of Mind helps us to come democratically to a perception of what is the nearest right action under the present circumstances.
Each church member has a spiritual gift to give to our church: his God-inspired vision of what is needed to bring the truth of spiritual healing and being more fully to the world. Each individual's view—when genuinely inspired— presents a useful aspect of the whole. One person's view is not necessarily supposed to be better than another's. Just fresh. And certainly within the church family there is sufficient expansiveness of activity to accommodate each individual's divinely impelled talents and thoughts.
Diversity of expression does not mean, however, mere multiplicity of viewpoints or opinions, which very well might result in a chaotic situation. What we desire for our church is unity of purpose and mutual good will. The church body functions as a unit. Each member has to perform his appointed duty well in order for the church to run smoothly. This is where the diversity of God-given gifts fits in.
It is the "differences of administrations" and "diversities of operations" that make for healthy, active church committees. One person's special gifts could enable him to do something for church that would perhaps be neither wise nor easy for someone else to do. Each of us has his or her own God-beloved identity and expression to contribute to our church. A main reason for joining church is to give one's best to the mission of Christian Science. Our mutual love for one another is such that we will want each one to make the contribution he is individually fitted to make. We want to help each member fully participate in the Church that Christ Jesus established—a Church committed to heal and restore through spiritual means alone.
Our humble, heartfelt recognition that divine Mind governs our lives is what puts us on the right church committees. It's what gives unity of purpose and impels coordination and cooperation. This effective prayer draws together those with whom we will work beneficially and effectively, demonstrating this truth stated in our textbook, Science and Health: "Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are properties of Mind."Science and Health, p. 124.
When committee assignments come, then, we can go forward into the work confidently, knowing that Mind is in control. Our appointment gives us the joyous opportunity of bringing to the committee our prayerful insights, as well as an openness and receptivity. This latter attitude helps us both to listen to another's unfoldment and then to gladly abide by the decision of the majority.
One of the most wonderful contributions a member can make in church work is to come to a meeting with a deep love and respect for God and His creation. This may mean that the member will come to the meeting fully prepared with many ideas—the freshest, most vital ideas that have come to him. Then, after presenting these ideas, he can humbly let them go, trusting Mind to guide and govern all. Thus the ideas are not seen as "mine" or "yours." This relieves one from a sense of pride of authorship. It's wonderfully freeing to trust the only Mind of man. Many times the viewpoints we present are accepted. Perhaps many more times they are not. But there need be no feeling of tension. All the ideas may have value, but some may be a bit before their time, and some not appropriate for present circumstances.
The variety of good ideas makes for a stimulating meeting—that gives texture, fiber, and substance to church work. It's essential, of course, to pray beforehand to present only good and worthwhile recommendations. But sometimes it's only during the meeting that it becomes apparent they were not so good after all. Then there's no need to offer or pursue them, particularly when others have helpful approaches that will accomplish what needs to be done.
In church work there may come a time when it seems very clear to us that the course of action being pursued is wrong. But with constant love and respect for God and His creation, we can strengthen our conviction that the right direction will eventually be seen and that it will be a blessing to all. And it might not hurt to remember we still could be wrong. Mrs. Eddy writes encouragingly: "When the hearts of Christian Scientists are woven together as are their names in the web of history, earth will float majestically heaven's heraldry, and echo the song of angels: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"Miscellaneous Writings, p. 145.
One chord is not as magnificent as an entire symphony. So our churches are blessed by the diversity and individuality of the many members of the one church body. It's significant that the rainbow, symbol of God's promise of eternal Life, incorporates all colors. What single color has the splendor of a rainbow?
Let us robe ourselves with joy and appreciation for one another in our church work. Like Joseph, each of us is cloaked with the special sign of our Father's love—a coat of many colors. Let us not dismay over our human differences but rather delight in our God-given diversities. It is, after all, "the same God which worketh all in all."