July 15, 2009 Matt Pennock

Unity in Diversity

Strive for unity in diversity

America was never a cultural “melting pot” but rather more of a salad bowl. In some places you can actually find Somali refugees, Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, and Native Americans all living in the same neighborhood.  What is amazing is the lack of mixing among Christians coming from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Indeed it seems more difficult to be a congregation of diverse cultures than to just be a congregation of one culture. Of course, it doesn’t mean that the different cultures are unable to get along. But then what does it mean? Is not every Christian’s identity found in one heavenly nation and royal kingdom?  Pick almost any city in America and you will find that the Koreans have their own church, the Chinese have their own church, the African-Americans have their own church, the Russians, the Arabs, the Messianic Jews, and so on. Why aren’t they all intermingling and breaking bread at the same table?

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

From this scripture we can get a sense of the unity that not only binds every believer into the body of Christ, but which also supersedes our earthly identities and affinities. In this sense it might be understood that there should be no problem for us to have multi-ethnic and multi-cultural congregations, and indeed there are some in existence. Yet there remains a very definite division in the body of Christ along the lines of cultural heritage. This very well may be due to a lack of conforming to the image of Christ who is all, and in all, and through all. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that the old person has passed and the new person has come. This verse is understood spiritually and means we are bound together by a common spiritual identity. Underneath this truth we come with our earthly natures, whether it is Asian or Latino, male or female, or Black or White. We each bring ourselves as fallen treasures and living sacrifices to the heavenly throne being fearfully and wonderfully designed. (Psalm 139:14)

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

But that the body of Christ should be divaricated according to heritage and culture does not seem to fulfill the purposes and glories of God. We are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3) which means that we ought to be bringing each of our cultural heritages to one table for all to partake of. We are not supposed to abandon what God has given each of us nor try to change another peoples’ culture. But American Christians are afraid of each other because we all come from so many different backgrounds. Therefore we need to come back to a genuine fear of God and stop fearing man, so that we can work together through the diversity God has graciously given to the American Church.

We must embrace these different glories in Christ, who is the redeemer of culture, the redeemer of man and woman, and in whom we are spiritually neither male nor female, White nor Black, white collar nor blue collar, young nor old. There is only one table. Let’s learn to share it.