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Embracing Diversity 

GoM18.2 Embracing Diversity (1
God on Monday
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'But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth' (Acts 1.8).

Welcome to the eighteenth God on Monday reflection!

There is a striking similarity between the incarnation and Pentecost: both mark an arrival that is not really an arrival. In the incarnation, the pre-existent Word becomes flesh; at Pentecost the pre-existent Holy Spirit comes in fullness of power. Nevetheless, both events are of such importance they changed the course of history.

One way to grasp the importance of Pentecost is to compare it to the building of the tower of Babel told in Genesis 11. Following soon after the story of the fall, it is about the sin of human pride; the purpose of the tower builders was ‘to make a name for ourselves’ (Gen 11.4). The result was that their language became confused. Far from it unifying people, their project brought social fragmentation as people found themselves unable to understand each other.

With the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, this tragic scenario - which has recurred many times in human history - is reversed. People ‘from every nation under heaven’ can understand each other again (Acts 2.5). This is not because they return to a common language but because they are enabled to speak the language of others. The confusion that had separated human beings since the time of Babel is overcome, and a new unity emerges that embraces diversity.

The impact on purpose was immediate. Far from wanting to make a name for themselves through the launch of a vanity project, the new believers enjoy public favour for an altogether different project: ‘All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.(…) They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God (…) And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ (Acts 2.44-47).

If we allow our personal and corporate purpose to be influenced by arrogance and conceit, the result will be a Babel-like babble of confusion and alienation. Should we instead emulate those who became our spiritual ancestors through the Holy Spirit’s full arrival at Pentecost, a better outcome will be ours. For we would thereby find ways to ‘speak the language’ of people unlike ourselves, especially through acts of kindness, generosity and gratitude. This may not make a name for ourselves but it will, as it did with those forebears, make a name for God. For that is what on earth we are here for.

Peter S Heslam, Director of Faith in Business

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Research demonstrates that diverse communities and teams enjoy many advantages. Peter will summarize the findings in a subsequent reflection.
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