Despite Our Differences, Christ is All
March 7, 2016
This past weekend, Mike Kelsey preached a compelling message on the reality of the multi-cultural church. He stated that we ultimately pursue diversity as the church because we want to display the preeminence of Jesus Christ.
Often, when this conversation happens, the next question is, “What do we do now?” Despite our differences as individuals, below are three things we can do together as the church to pursue diversity and show the world that Christ is our all:
1. We lament together: Cultural and racial division exists
As Christians we don’t bury our heads in the sand. More than anyone else, we see the reality of sin, including racial division, and we eagerly await a Savior that will come make all wrong things right. However, right now, we wait. We are aware enough to see racial division even in the church, and we rightly shake our heads. But what we do next is important.
Instead of beginning a conversation on race from different sides of the aisle, the beginning of the conversation should start by collectively acknowledging that racial division exists and mourning this fact. I experienced this personally about a year ago. As we watched an event unfold that caused racial unrest in our country, a few of my friends acknowledged that what was happening was “messed up” and prayed together. None of us shared the same racial background, and I’m certain that we didn’t all share the same political ideology. However, no one offered solutions because this wasn’t the time. This was the time for us, in our helplessness, to lament the presence of sin and to run to the only One that can do something about it.
Jesus himself lamented the sin He saw around Him (Matthew 23:37-39). While lament may seem unnecessary or unproductive, it’s a critical first step towards the pursuit of unity. We can’t move forward until we realize that racial division is a problem and acknowledge it.
2. We believe together: Jesus can unify
Even in our lament, we fight to believe together. We do not grieve as those who have no hope, because Jesus is risen. So we dry our eyes, and we fight to believe that in Jesus are the resources for unity in impossible situations.
Colossians 3:11 names types of people for whom unity seemed like a pipe dream. But at the end of this verse Paul states, “Christ is all, and in all.” In other words, these groups of people believed that their commonality in Christ trumped their differences. They understood that Christ demolished divisive walls built by hostile hands with the sledgehammer of the Gospel of peace (Ephesians 3:14).
Do you truly believe that Christ can bridge cultural/racial division? Remember that you do not believe something just because it’s an intellectual reality (like 2+2 = 4) but when it becomes a truth that determines the way that you live. This leads me to the next point.
3. We commit together: Love each other
We enjoy friendship with each other. Notice that I didn’t say to go pursue friendships. While this isn’t a bad idea, it can make it sound like these kinds of cross-cultural relationships should be pursued for the express purpose of meeting some type of quota. Real friendships aren’t built on a foundation of guilt or sociological curiosity. Real friendships are built on mutual love.
So enjoy each other. Spend time with each other. Eat with each other. Go to the movies together. Real friendships are with people who enjoy being with each other. Cross-cultural friendships are the places where people go from being stereotypes and caricatures to living breathing people. Friendships, formed by the Gospel in the life of a church, are the place where we live out the over 40 “one another” passages in the New Testament. Can you imagine what would happen if we actually lived these out with people that don’t look like us? The church becomes a light on the hill amid the darkness of racial division (Matthew 5:14-17). The world would look at the church and ask, “How did you do that?” In response, my prayer is that we would loudly be able to say that “Christ is all.”
If you’re interested in exploring more about this topic, here at some book suggestions:
- United: Captured by God's Vision for Diversity by Trillia Newbell
- From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race (New Studies in Biblical Theology) by J Daniel Hays
- United by Faith by Michael Emerson
- Divided by Faith by Michael Emerson
- Many Colors by Soong Chan Rah
- Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland