- Today, what would you celebrate today about your missional community?
- Today, what would you confess or lament about your missional community?
- Today, what are you hopes for your missional community?
Scripture: Revelation 7:9-12
Simple Prayer: Jesus, you prayed that we would be one as you and the Father are one. Teach us how to do that with our eyes wide open to the beauty of the diversity around us.
Race, Culture, and Ethnicity: We believe that our identity in Jesus Christ is greater than any form of identity that flows from culture, social status, or ethnicity – so we seek unity in Christ with any who call him Lord! Our identity in Jesus doesn’t make us all the same, rather it frees us to appreciate and enjoy our differences.
The Bible makes it clear that all kinds of people will be gathered before the throne of Christ in heaven. People from every kind of “nation, tribe, people and tongue” will be there, centered around Jesus. Jesus died for each of us. Our faith in Jesus makes us all his, all one. “No longer Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female; all are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28) But our differences are not destroyed, rather they are redeemed and transformed. We are beautifully distinct and diverse. When we pray for God to make things on earth as they are in heaven, we are praying for the Church on earth to look like people from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue unified around Jesus.
In recent years, there was a western cultural value that suggested we should all be “color-blind”: that we should ignore any distinctions and look at everyone the same regardless of their race or ethnicity. There’s something noble behind that idea. After all, it has been said that there is one race, the human race. But the reality of creation shows us that God loves and celebrates diversity. What great diversity there is within the human race. If we try to ignore what makes us different, we are ignoring gifts and blessings from our creator God. The diversity of creation is abundant and obvious! He took the time to make rocks diverse. (I visited a web site that listed 90 types of granite.) It is no surprise that his good diversity extends to people. Yes, it is important to recognize that we all have so much in common! However, if we only see what we have in common, we might miss the differences God has given us for his glory and purposes. Each of us is different, distinct, and unique. God wants us to be uniquely and fully who he created us to be. The differences are for his glory!
Missionary Hudson Taylor once said, “God’s work done God’s way never lacks God’s provision.” I believe that in this generation, God’s way for God’s work is through racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity. God delights to work through all of his children. We need one another in order to be the people he wants us to be and to do the work that he’s calling us to do. We need to learn from each other. We need to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:20). We need the unique gifts and offerings that are found within every community in our city.
We see this most easily when share meals. There’s something about eating together that brings out the benefits of our differences. Gathering regularly around a meal shows us what unity could look like. The feasts are richer when everyone brings their unique best to the table. Eating together, enjoying community around a table, taking care of one another – this models something of the Kingdom of God.
So we value every people, language, and culture in our city and in the world and hope to accept and include the beauty and wisdom of every culture in our city. We long to become an extended, reconciled, diverse community that models something of heaven here on earth. (Matthew 5:5-13, John 10:14-18, Acts 1:8, 10:1-48, Galatians 3:26-29, Revelation 4 and 5)
Don’t miss out on the beauty and fullness of God’s gifts!
Reflection and Practice:
- What do you find to be hard about working across racial and ethnic lines?
- When have we shown beautifully what God’s kingdom is like in terms of racial and ethnic diversity?
- Where have we struggled with it?
- How easy is it for you to learn from and even put yourself under the authority of people who are not like you?
- Is there anything you need to do in response? When and how will you do it?