Our country is currently rife with racial tensions. And we as the church have an opportunity to model an alternative. We have a chance to show how to live as reconciled people because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A multi-ethnic church is not the goal of the gospel. The goal of the gospel is the glory of God and secondarily the redemption of people. But we must also say that multi-ethnicity is the proper result of the gospel. John Piper writes, “Vertical and horizontal reconciliation happen together and inseparably through faith in Christ.” This is clear in Ephesians 2-3.
Paul clearly taught that there was a way of living that was not consistent with the gospel (Galatians 2:11-16). When Peter avoided the Gentile believers, Paul said that Peter’s conduct was not “in step with the truth of the gospel.” If we gather together only with people who are like us (ethnicity, age, economic, educational level, etc.), we have not fully grasped the power and implications of the gospel. We are simply a social club of people with common interests.
The bottom line comes down to pride and selfishness. We want things our way and we are not willing to lay aside our preferences. Nearly fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th century.”
The fact is that we naturally gravitate toward those who are like ourselves. This is our comfort zone. It takes intentional effort to foster a sense of unity with people who are different. We live in an age of skeptics. Perhaps we need to remember that it is our radical, self-sacrificing, cross-cultural, eye-catching unity that will convince a lost world (John 17:20-26).
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