Different doesn’t have to mean wrong. Take a fresh look at the diversity of God’s creation.
A few months back, I was wandering up the road to church, enjoying the late summer weather, when something made me stop and go back a few steps. I wasn’t sure what exactly, all I knew was that I’d spotted something – not consciously – which my brain evidently thought was worth the effort of braking and reversing for a closer look. I had my suspicions what it might be, and sure enough, a couple of feet back in the middle of a sizeable patch of clover, there was one (just one) which instead of having three leaves, had four. I don’t know how much you know about clover, but the fact that it’s posh name is trifolium, which means three-leafed, should give some clue to the fact that this is quite rare. When I was young, it was common to consider four leafed clovers – and the finding of them – to be lucky. Of course, I now recognise this to be superstition. A hard nosed rationalist might tell you that finding such a thing is just chance, they might further go on to tell you that it signifies nothing more than a freak mutation, that this particular stem is simply deformed. While I no longer think of four leaf clover as lucky, neither do I buy into the hard nosed rationalists take on things. As I looked at this clover I saw something special. Sure, in strictly biological terms it might be a mutation, but it was none the less a thing of simple beauty, and it got me thinking.
Why are four leafed clover considered lucky, or special? Well, because out of thousands of examples, this one was different. It stands out from the crowd. And we know that nothing happens just by chance, God has chosen to make this a world where things which are ‘different’ happen rather than one where everything is the same. He could have given us a world where every clover clump was a perfect clone, all identical, but he didn’t. Not only did he give us the odd four (or even five, six or seven) leafed clover, but more importantly even the ones that look pretty much identical to us are unique, and he sees it. God loves diversity, and he loves variety. We are told that in the beginning God created plants and animals, birds and fish of every kind and variety. Jesus told his disciples that although there are more sparrows than we can count, and they may all look pretty much the same to us, God knows them all apart, and not a one falls from the sky without him knowing about it.
And if this is true of plants, animals and birds, how much more is it true of us In human beings as in all else, God loves variety. Look around yourself, we may all have a few things in common, but we are more than just clones, poured out of a single mould. We are each of us unique, and if God loves that, shouldn’t we? In this day and age, society likes to talk a lot about the value of the individual, whilst actually encouraging us all to think and act the same. The Bible, on the other hand recognises the importance of communities, made up of individuals, and calls us to personal relationships with each other, and a personal relationship with God. We are taught to be suspicious of anything that is different, of people who look a bit funny, dress strangely or don’t fit in. We’ve all seen it, the new kid, the freak, the weirdo. How quickly they get singled out for insults, beating up or just being ignored or laughed at. Maybe you’ve been on the receiving end of this yourself? Maybe you have been singled out for being different? Some people might be particularly frightened this will happen to them if people find out they go to church. Maybe you’ve been on the other side. Maybe you’ve joined in picking on someone else, or ignored them, just because they don’t fit in, because the ‘cool’ crowd say so. I hope not, but I know myself that it is all to easy to fall into this sort of behaviour, especially if you think that it makes it less likely you will be picked out – and picked on – next.
So, the next time you find yourself in a situation like that, the next time you are getting a hard time for being different, or you are tempted to join in picking on the class victim, or you see someone who is having trouble fitting in, stop and think. Remember the four leafed clover. To some people it is just a freak of nature, but we know better. The four leaf clover is beautiful, a picture of God’s goodness and abundance, and so is every single one of us