Today there is SO much DIVERSITY –
every way I turn,
I am confronted through daily interactions with people
highlighting “differences” in cultures, philosophies,
politics, religion, language, food . . . everything!
I started wondering how the early followers of “the way”
were able to be described as “of one heart and soul” and
what that really meant. From my Judeo-Christian background that
seemed like an important place to start looking at how “believers”
should react to diversity.
So I looked at the Hebrew meaning of the words “heart” and “soul” and
the circumstances of this group which began on the day of Pentecost and,
fortunately, the writer of Acts describes as diverse, “from every nation.”
(Acts 2:1, 5, 46 — Acts 4:32)
lev (heart) and nefesh (soul):
The three special functions, knowing, feeling, and willing,
ascribed by modern psychologists to the mind,
were attributed to the heart by the Biblical writers—
All modes of feeling, from the lowest physical forms, as hunger and thirst,
to the highest spiritual forms, as reverence and remorse,
are attributed by the Hebrews to the heart.
As the whole physical and psychical life is centralized in the heart,
so the whole moral life springs from and issues out of it. (JewishEncyclopedia.com)
To love God with all our heart and all our soul, means to love with the entirety of our being . . .
SO maybe that is where I have to begin to understand
how the early followers of “the way” were of one heart and soul
while being such a diverse community . . . a common focus – GOD!
DIVERSITY . . . my reactions to our differences should call me
to look into my heart for the insights that tell me why I react the way I do—
why my automatic response to a person of color or to a head scarf on a woman
or to a motorcycle rider or a teen wearing low-riding jeans or a screaming child
is what it is . . . why? NOT why are they the way they are, BUT why do I
feel the way I do when i see them?
It may take a deeper, personal look inside of me to be able to understand
the answers to these questions about my world today . . . slower steps before I decide
Jeanne Hicks Barnett
March 8, 2016—March 8, 2020