You have all become true children of God by the faith of Jesus the Anointed One! It was faith that immersed you into Jesus, the Anointed One, and now you are covered and clothed with his anointing. And we no longer see each other in our former state—Jew or non-Jew, rich or poor, male or female—because we’re all one through our union with Jesus Christ with no distinction between us.
Gal. 3:25-28 Passion
How do we make sense of the current times? In the midst of an era which has been termed “the new normal,” given not just new ways of being in social spaces together but dealing with old issues of ethnic clashes, biases and prejudices, how do we gain understanding of how to move into our future? In a post COVID-19 era, it is imperative for the Church to become the model Jesus described in John 17:20,21 when he prayed, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, May they also be one in Us, that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” Jesus was describing unity. He knew that the Church would include many nations, tribes and tongues. He knew there would be cultural and ethnic differences. Yet Jesus prayed that the Church would become one.
Diversity is defined as differences in racial and ethnic, socioeconomic, geographic, and academic/professional backgrounds. Diversity is made up of people with every kind of opinion, educational and social backgrounds, religious and political beliefs. The unity Jesus spoke of exists beyond these differences. Unity is where these issues become secondary. Unity recognizes our differences but celebrates them as it honors each individual. How can we celebrate our differences, and yet honor them too? It is through the love of God. The Church must become the model of God’s love, which produces unity. This cannot be achieved without an understanding that diversity was God’s idea in the first place. Humanity is created in the image and likeness of God. We may be ethnically and culturally different, yet every one of us is created in His image. Our salvation resolves our sin issues, but our ethnic and culture distinctions, for the most part, remain unchanged. Despite our differences, the Church is designed to stand as the model for love and unity. Overcoming our differences can only be accomplished through God’s love flowing in and through every believer.
The Church is the Ekklesia, the governing Body of Christ on Earth. God purposed that a unified Church would point the way to Him through its people’s lifestyle of love for Him and each other. The old normal may have been marked by racism, division and strife but God has a plan for His Church. God’s plan is a plan of triumph. Darkness seeks to divide the Church, ultimately hindering our witness and our earthly rulership, for a house divided cannot stand. If we can see the Church as the Body of Christ in many congregations, all of us honoring Jesus as Lord and King, perhaps it will be easier for us to understand the need to embrace diversity.
There are many reasons the Church must embrace diversity, here are a few.
- The Church is called to disciple the nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Our commandment to disciple nations extends beyond our own nation. Nation may not mean just our country, but also people who are different from us. We are sent to people who are different from us.
- We are commanded to love (John 13:35). Love is the most complete expression of our Heavenly Father. The love of God gives us supernatural capacity to love those who are different from ourselves.
- Unity is a distinction of the Church (Eph. 4:1-6). Jesus prayed for the unity of the Church. His desire is that in the same way He [Jesus] was one with his Father, the Church must be one in Him and with each other.
- We are becoming One New Man (Eph. 2:15). Jews and Gentiles are becoming One New Man in Christ. Our diversity, our distinctiveness, become complete in Christ as we allow the love of Christ to overflow within us toward those who are different.
- Division within the Body hinders advancement of the Kingdom (Matthew 12:25). Where there is division, there is strife. When believers are divided, we lose focus on the mandate of heaven. Without focus on God’s agenda, we cannot advance the mandate of heaven. Division results in our coalescing around the mandate of darkness rather than heaven’s agenda.
- All nations are of one blood (Acts 17:26; Col. 3:11; Rev. 7:9). Diversity celebrates our differences. Our ethnicities and cultures may vary, but we are each equally created in the image of God. All are welcome to worship at the throne of God.
- Racial barriers are the antithesis of love (1 Cor. 1:10; Rom. 2:26). The Early Church experienced division over ethnic and cultural issues. Paul encouraged them to lay aside their differences and embrace unity in the faith.
- God is never glorified in division (John 17:17). Division is counter-productive to Kingdom believers. The Spirit of God flows freely wherever believers are unified and focused toward God. Division diverts our attention from God and focuses it upon our differences instead. When we understand God’s desire for us to reflect His love toward each other and become willing to embrace each other and celebrate our differences and honor Him, God is glorified.
The way into our future, the place where the Church will thrive, will be to remember that we are equally created in the image and likeness of God. While we may worship at different local congregations, in various places, we are one blood, one people, in Him. Many of us may refer to the Black Church, White Church, etc., but the reality is that we are called to be one Church. How can it be any other way, for every aspect of our being was determined by God? Acts 17:26,27 states, “From one man, Adam, he made every man and woman and every race of humanity, and he spread us over all the earth. He sets the boundaries of people and nations, determining their appointed times in history. He has done this so that every person would long for God, feel their way to him, and find him—for he is the God who is easy to discover! It is through him that we live and function and have our identity; just as your own poets have said, ‘Our lineage comes from him.” There could be no clearer statement of our oneness than these Scripture words.
We must discontinue alienating ourselves from each other over racial, ethnic, socio-economic and political differences. They only create factions within the Church and hinder our witness. Our lives must bear witness to the power of the redemptive blood of Jesus. When this happens, unbelievers will observe our life of love and unity despite our differing ethnicities, cultures, socio-economic status or political views. A diverse church is reflective of Heaven, God’s home. A diverse church is a powerful church moving in the power of the Holy Spirit, loving God and each other. A diverse church, that is loving and honoring of each member will experience abundant harvest in this decade and beyond. Let’s go.
Dr. Venner Alston is the author of Next Level Spiritual Warfare: Advanced Strategies to Defeat the Enemy. Her book can be purchased on Amazon or wherever fine books are sold. Her second book, Breakthrough Prayers, Decrees and Confessions to Defeat the Enemy: Overcoming Demonic Resistance Through Warfare Prayer, can be purchased directly from her website: www.drvjalston.org. Order your copy today!