The Beauty of Diversity

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In many seasons of life, our friendship circles form around shared interests—things like college football, music, books, or station in life. Or perhaps we work for the same company, go to the same school, or belong to the same generation or race. If we are being honest, many of us would probably say we prefer these sorts of friendships. We are drawn to what is familiar and safe.

In the church, however, the Lord gathers people in a room and tells us to love each other and walk through our lives of faith together, even when it may appear on the surface that we don’t have much in common. What do we have in common? Galatians 3:28-29 tells us we share Christ and our future with him. We share an eternal hope that makes us into one undivided family forever.

The original texts of Scripture were written during very divided times. People were divided according to their ethnicity, position, and gender. In fact, many cultures assigned a person’s worth according to such distinctions—Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. Today, our categories might differ some, but we still struggle with defining our worth according to where think we fit in the world, and where we think others fit. How we approach our diversity has the capacity to facilitate great good or cause great harm.

Discussing the particular issue of race, Scott Sauls wrote in his book Befriend:

“Throughout history and up to the present day, racial tension has caused great pain, especially to ethnic minorities. However, for those with a heart to listen and learn, racial differences have potential to expand our vision for the Kingdom of God.”

Embracing the beauty of diversity expands our vision of our eternal hope. The church is a group of people called to say, “We welcome diversity because it points to a beautiful reality—that our chief identity for now and for all eternity is that we belong to Christ and are members of his household.” What will that eternity look like? Revelation 7:9-12 gives us a picture of the beauty of diversity as an eternal celebration of Christ. Notice that diversity is not gone; it is unified.

Revelation 7:9-12 (ESV)
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

If that text describes the future of the people of God from every tribe, tongue, and nation, why wouldn’t we want to practice celebrating the beauty of diversity now with our friendships here?

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