Great strength lies in differences God created

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring is the season of gardening. I have planted a couple of gardens, but I do not claim to be a gardener. I actually have four plants that I have yet to kill. The fact that they have survived is a major feat.

One of the things that I have learned in my attempts at gardening is the tremendous variety of plants, vegetables and flowers that are available. When I go to the local nursery, I may get to choose from four, five, maybe six types of tomatoes, and that's out of the thousands of varieties of tomatoes available in the world. Why in the world are there so many different types of seemingly the same thing? Perhaps God just really likes tomatoes.

The story of Nehemiah demonstrates the blessings that come from the range of diversity of people united in one cause. Nehemiah opens with tremendous destruction and disgrace. The walls of his home city Jerusalem have been destroyed. The gates have been burned. The mighty stones are lying in rubble. Security, economic stability and disgrace are the watchwords of the once glorious and powerful city.

In this story God uses one man, Nehemiah, to rally the people together for the purpose of glorifying his name by rebuilding the walls of the city and restoring dignity to themselves.

Of course people have to be used to build. Even today with the most complicated architecture and the sophisticated building techniques, it takes people with knowledge and skill to take a pile of what could be debris and transform it into tremendous buildings and bridges. People are vital, but shouldn't it be people of skill?

Nehemiah was not a builder by trade nor did he have at his disposal a building crew to complete the job. He had ordinary people who saw that the state in which they were living was not what God desired nor what he intended for them. So they built. People of all kinds of backgrounds, men and women, young and old, rich, poor, white collar, blue collar -- all came together and built.

People matter to God; people of differing ethnicity, regional heritages and gender matter to God. There is great strength in the vast differences that he has created -- differences that if not recognized and celebrated will cause a blessing from him to be missed.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at

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