“Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” Rom 15:7 NLT
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1 John 4:9-12 NIV
The Apostle Paul says we are to ‘accept each other’ and the Apostle John says we are ‘love one another.” Both of these require sacrifice—a willingness to change, a willingness to reach out to everyone—especially those who are different from you.
One of the great advantages of diversity is that it gives us more opportunities to practice loving one another. If everybody was the same as us it wouldn’t require that we extend real love. When we spend time with people that are different than us—it gives us the opportunity to change, to learn, to grow and especially the opportunity to express the love of Christ.
Our ministries need to not simply welcome people who are different but actually pursue them. It has always seemed strange to me that everyone is invited into the Kingdom of God but not everyone feels welcome into the church. Diversity is the heart of God.
However we tend to value people who are like us more than we value those who are different. But there is more at stake than how does a church add some color to their attendance. The truth is, the vitality of 21st Christianity hinges on this very issue…
Our credibility & authenticity rests on our ability to embrace the differences in people—and not only embrace differences but actually celebrate and unleash them!
Jesus chose an unusually diverse group to follow him.
Instead of choosing men who were respected by others because of their professions (like rabbis, lawyers …), Jesus chose fisherman, a tax collector and a zealot! He called them to reach out to people—feed them, heal them, help them find new life. And that same call is for us today. Our call is to show an unbelieving/skeptical world our love & respect for those different from us.
Jesus’ eternal cause creates diverse community.
We are a community of Christ followers who have been called to love and serve our cities. And when we do that there are natural connections of diverse relationships. How does that happen? How do people from such diverse backgrounds come together—simple everyone is someone who is connected to someone who goes to our church or has gone to our church.
It is simple—the people we befriend will be the people we reach. We do not target people because of their heritage we just try to love, serve and reach our friends.
The church was born in diversity.
At Pentecost the disciples experienced a linguistic miracle: Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.We see this diversity in the universal church but for the vast majority of local churches, diversity disappeared somewhere along the way.
If you know God, you know His passion has always been for the nations—can see it from Genesis to Revelation:
∙God call to Abraham was to “bless the nations” Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” The song the Apostle John heard in heaven is recorded in Rev. 5:9 and it says that the blood of Jesus “purchased for God people from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
And I don’t believe we can say it is language that keeps us apart—more often it is our unwillingness to reach out to others different than ourselves. It takes sacrifice—a willingness to get out of our comfort zones—but it is the will of God.