BY BISHOP MATT THOMAS
The church has always been a diverse family. The Bible emphasizes the church’s composition, including people from every language, tribe, race and nation.
We know that the universal church contains that diversity, but how does the local church reflect that diversity? After all, people from every nation, race and language don’t typically live in the same neighborhood.
A certain attraction is shared by every person in every neighborhood regardless of their ethnicity or background. They have the same, deep human need as everyone else around them. Only God satisfies this need. Their greatest relational connection will always be with those who share deeply the same Spirit of God that they experience.
People from very different backgrounds become increasingly connected at their point of least diversity — a need for God, purpose, salvation and hope. When two people are joined by the Spirit of God, forgiven through Jesus Christ, they become family of a different kind. The result is a community that decreases the most divisive elements of diversity.
The church that wants to minister to a diverse population must focus on the points of common need — the bottom-line need for love, security and meaning as found in Jesus Christ. When we spend our time talking about how different we are, we tend to fixate on the differences. We may celebrate the differences, but we should never fixate on them. Our focus must be on Jesus Christ.
We must deepen in Scripture together. We must pray together. We must worship together. We must labor together. We must serve one another as family. It is only then that diversity can be celebrated.
Diversity becomes a joy when it is not center stage. When that which unites us becomes more prominent than that which divides us, then those things that typically divide us become no more than a joyful variety to our experience. Diversity becomes less divisive when Jesus is center stage.0