Our world consists of many cultures and subcultures. The conventional view is that these various people groups are essentially so different from each other that, while we should respect them all, we can never really be close in heart to those unlike us.
As a result, pressure is applied—in places like our modern universities—to grant to each group its own space. So we’re told we need a White Student Union, an African-American Student Union, an Asian Student Union, a Female Student Union, and the list goes on. So much for our national motto, E Pluribus Unum (“out of many, one”), or the words of our pledge, “one nation under God, indivisible”!
How has this multicultural thinking impacted the church? Just look at us on any Sunday morning: We have black churches, white churches, Latino churches, and Asian churches.
In most cities, these groups seldom interact at all. And we have our reasons: “They worship differently, look different, are from a different part of town, baptize differently, think differently about spiritual gifts, take communion differently,” and so on.
While this is not a particularly new phenomenon, multicultural thinking has helped us justify and perpetuate our separation from each other. We have begun to believe we really cannot relate to people—even Christians—who are from a different subculture.
But wait a minute! Regardless of how our backgrounds may differ, is it not true that you are my forever brother or sister in Christ if you hold to these three things: (1) the lordship of the risen Christ; (2) salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ’s saving work on the cross; and (3) the authority and inerrancy of Scripture? And do I not grieve our Lord and frustrate the coming of His kingdom on earth in power when I separate from you?
Try reading John 17, where at least four separate times Jesus prays that we His followers will be one, and then continue to justify the disunity in your city among Jesus’ followers. He makes it clear that our “complete unity” will have great results: then “the world [will] know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (v. 23 NIV).
Part of the first-century church’s influence on the Roman culture came from their love for each other. Roman culture was even more stratified than is our modern American culture.
But in the early church, the highest class (the patricians) stooped to warmly welcome slaves as their brothers and sisters. This was pleasantly shocking to non-believers and helped show the world the power of the gospel, where truly the ground is level at the foot of the cross.
Part of the reason we find it so difficult is that our arch-enemy well knows the power of unity. He understands that we are much stronger together than apart, and that love among believers from different cultures is obviously a powerful work of God that draws people to Jesus Christ.
My dear brothers and sisters, let us fight Satan and his minions, and do the hard work of reaching out and praying with our brothers and sisters in our communities. After all, this is what heaven is going to look like!
Is God calling you to take a step of faithful obedience in this area? Then take that step!
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).