3/17 ((from Eve))
In a culture where divisiveness reigns and individual preferences are elevated above any sort of community objective, talking about true diversity is countercultural at almost every level. Because this week, as we talk about how diversity affects various aspects of life (or how it should affect various aspects of life), we’re not talking about the “everyone-has-to-agree-with-everyone-else-about-everything” kind of diversity. We’re talking about intentional, God-honoring diversity for the sake of showing the world how beautiful the gospel is.
Doug Logan, in an article for The Gospel Coalition entitled, “Diversity the World Can’t Achieve,” puts it this way:
“The gospel imperative is foundational to a biblical expression of diversity, because it builds on the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. . . . The people of God must be united in love for God—which is expressed in how we love our neighbor. Love for God fuels love for neighbor. . . . The world imagines it will see diversity spring from a culture that promotes individualism. But true diversity will only come as we die to ourselves and prefer the needs of others. We must re-evaluate our personal preferences, political leanings, socioeconomic status—indeed, our very lives—in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In Colossians 3, Paul breaks down what life should look like if we have been raised with Christ:
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. . . . . Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” Colossians 3:1-2, 9-15
Did you catch that? “Christ is all and in all,” is a reminder that in Christ the divisions we so often cling to mean nothing. We have been called in ONE BODY.
In light of God-honoring diversity and an acknowledgment of how we get to interact because of the gospel, how are you and I making decisions about the neighborhoods we choose to live in? Or about the schools we send our children to?
Now we’re getting real. But his is where the rubber meets the road, right?
I’m not naive enough to think that these types of decisions are to be made lightly, nor am I suggesting that you throw caution to the wind in order to move into an ethnically or socioeconomically diverse neighborhood next month. What I am suggesting is that if we are really getting after building a kingdom made of every tribe, nation, tongue, and people (Rev. 5:9-10), God-honoring diversity is the name of the game.
We cannot pray, “Your will be done on earth as it in heaven,” and then avoid interacting with people that are different than us, or isolate our families in neighborhoods and schools filled with people and children that look just like us. As a woman from the majority culture, unless I am intentionally pursuing diversity in the voices I listen to, the friends I spend time with, and yes, even the neighborhood I live in and the schools I think about sending my children to, I won’t get it. It takes effort, but that effort is important.
Understanding the role of place as it relates to diversity is relatively new to me, but I think it’s worth pondering. Place has historically played a role in racial discrimination and large areas of cities across America have suffered as a result. Again, there aren’t easy answers… but there are important questions that need to be addressed. Dan Dewitt suggests that these questions and answers require a lot of thinking and listening and praying.
“We must think deeply about place, and stop seeing it as a neutral and insignificant factor in race relations. We can’t ignore these walls any longer. To do this we must listen to others and learn about the walls—intentional and unintentional, visible and invisible—that separate us. And if these walls are ever to be breached, we must pray for strength, courage, patience, resolve, and wisdom to begin a journey directed toward change.”
Do the neighborhoods we live in help display God’s heart for true diversity? That’s a question I need to ask myself… and maybe a question you need to ask yourself, too.
Will it be difficult to answer? Yes.
Will it require sacrifice? Possibly.
Is it worth it? Absolutely.
“As the people of God, we ought to intentionally pursue diversity—meaningful diversity. . . . Jesus died to purchase a diverse people; why wouldn’t we pursue that now? Yes, there will be challenges. Yes, we will make mistakes. No, it won’t be easy. But it will be worth it. May we never yawn at something for which our Savior bled. Instead, may we labor and long for the future that awaits us: the most diverse community in the history of the world, gathered as one around the throne of the Lamb.” – Doug Logan