In her book, Christianity for the Rest of Us, Diana Butler Bass shares this quote from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
“In God’s family, there are no outsiders. All are insiders. Black and white, rich and poor, gay and straight, Jew and Arab, Palestinian and Israeli, Roman Catholic and Protestant, Serb and Albanian, Hutu and Tutsi, Muslim and Christian, Buddhist and Hindu, Pakistani and Indian – all belong…God’s dream wants us to be brothers and sisters, wants us to be family…In our world, we can survive only together. We can be truly free, ultimately, only together. We can be human only together…”
I’m writing this on July 13, the anniversary of Live Aid – July 13, 1985 – the day the world seemed to come together as one. Live Aid was a global concert that raised funds for African famine relief. Simultaneous rock concerts were held at Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. Other shows were held in the Soviet Union, Canada, Japan, Yugoslavia, Austria, Australia, and West Germany, just to name a few. The U.S. performance ended with USA for Africa performing the song, “We Are the World.” It’s estimated that nearly 40% of the world’s population tuned in to the live broadcast, which raised more than $127 million ($350 million in today’s terms).
I wonder if we could come together like that today. I hope and pray we could because the truth is, we are better together. There are some who oppose diversity. They prefer uniformity and same-mindedness when, in fact, we are called to unity-in-diversity. Unity-in-diversity is what the Christian faith is all about. According to the Apostle Paul, “There is no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female…for all are one in Christ Jesus.” And, Church, that’s a good thing. As Butler Bass puts it, diversity:
“…models creation, embodies love, and, through the related practice of reconciliation, aligns our lives with God’s dream of harmony.”
Some would call unity-in-diversity a pipe dream. I see it as the vision we were called to as the Church…creating the Beloved Community, “a family bound not by blood but by love, that witnesses to the power of God’s healing in the world” (Diana Butler Bass). We did it once. I wonder if we can do it again?