King David, considered ruler during the golden age of Israel and the one who helped usher in that time, tried to have dyadic relationships, an ‘in’ vs. ‘out’ group, with God’s people (1 Chronicles 21). It came to naught. King David, as great as he was, was met with plague.
Every moment, God gives us a choice. Choice is one of the defining characteristics of God. This is how we know ALL are made in God’s image. God offered David three choices. God would allow plague, famine or war to ravage Israel. God allows others’ choices to interact without choices.
Often as we think about community and increasing diversity, we have good intentions. We are communal beings, we long for community. We feel like our community is small and we want to enlarge it. We begin to notice our brothers and sisters suffering from marginalization. We invite them in. Our group grows.
Members of our group that don’t like our new friends. We give them ultimatums and tell them too bad, so sad – that’s the way it is. We create the new ‘out’ group. We marginalize others.
Whoa – Stop the music! What are we doing? Who are we fooling?
Social scientists tell us not to do this. Kravitz and Yuengling write about it in Bridging the Research-Practice Gap. Also, we have scripture. The prophet Amos reminds us of our former marginalized selves. We have all the bad kings in the First Testament that illustrate what happens when we turn our backs on our neighbors. We see our patriarch Abraham abusing his slave. By creating a new ‘out’ group, we usher in the old ways, the lonely ways. The voice in the desert cries out for changes in society and in us.
When will we see what we have become?
Quinton Jefferson is a member of Christ Church Cathedral and a doctoral student in organizational leadership at Xavier University. He holds advanced degrees in Theology and Education.