Unity in Diversity?

About six months ago three business units merged. The challenge: How to unify three ways of doing things into one integrated whole. A problem-solving exercise hinted at the road to success.

Teams of eight grabbed materials from a table … an odd assortment of toy trucks, pulleys, PVC pipes, bungee cords, bags of sugar, kite twine, and slinkies. The goal: Within 60 minutes, invent a transportable mechanism that launched a tennis ball to roll around the perimeter of a circle, 3′ in diameter, and raise a flag at the finish line.

Frowns of skepticism stared at each other. Yet, we tackled the problem as if lives depended on it. Or, at least egos and reputations.

Some worked alone. Some partnered. Leadership eased from one to another as one idea or modification built on the last. Five minutes before deadline, we launched our tennis ball. It rolled down a groove formed by table legs, two PVC pipes and dowels, all duck-taped together. At the end of the runway, the ball circled the edge of two more PVC pipes taped to a foam board platform before it thumped a 6 inch plastic arch, which sprang loose and upright, holding a paper flag. A collective exhale of relief and cheer followed.

Then came the greater challenge. The exercise leader instructed three groups to combine their different inventions so they worked together. Groans erupted. Exhaustion sidelined some momentarily. But, no one quit. At the end of 60 minutes, three inventions worked as one.

I didn’t miss the message. Three distinct business units merged, but we could find our way to become a single unit. Just like the three contraptions. And achieve more together than alone.

That evening, another parallel dawned on me. Could this exercise apply to life? An allegory for God’s intention with us, His creations? We each grow up on different “platforms” — different backgrounds, ideas, skills, and experiences. Then God groups different units at different times and says, “Now find a way to work as one.” Isn’t that what He has in mind when individuals marry? So, what about different divisions within God’s Church?

Maybe we’re one, too, like it or not. Consider James Howell’s perspective in his book, The Kiss of God, “Are our differences precisely the bizarre design of the Spirit, not so we might bicker or splinter off but so real people, in all their startling diversity and uniqueness, might find a place in Christ’s body? … Together we are not a many-headed monster, but a body, reaching out to all kinds of people, accomplishing together unfathomably good things we could never manage alone.”

We can find unity in our diversity. What do you think? What is God’s call to action for us?

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, … one hope, … one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:3-5, NIV).

©2012 Gloria Ashby. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail.

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About Gloria Ashby

I'm a writer, speaker and teacher. I live with my husband in the DFW area, and close to our daughter and her family.
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