Hi everyone. Rob here.
I took a few weeks off writing to work on the election we had in our country recently. I greeted people, helped them through the voting process and helped in the counting part of it as well. It has been a real privilege to get up close to our democracy in action. The greatest privilege was experiencing the great diversity of our country up close. I especially enjoyed the excitement of people who were getting to vote for the first time. Some were young people who were now old enough but others were refugees or immigrants who had never been allowed to vote before. It reminded me again that there is strength in diversity and power in inclusion.
Being inclusive seems to be something that causes antagonism in the Christian world at times. I think that people equate it with tolerance for sin or universalism. But inclusion is part of God’s heart as we see in Revelation 7:9-10.
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar,
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
and from the Lamb!”
God wants everyone to come home to him. This is what we read in 2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
He knows not everyone will. He knows that there will always be hard-hearted people who will continue to resist the invitation into the kingdom, but his desire is to be inclusive. He wants as many people as possible from every corner of the globe to come home to him. The question is, do we?
Let’s not pretend that embracing diversity is easy. Life is far more simple when people are similar to us. There is less confusion when we speak the same language. There is less argument when people share our opinions. There is less need for explanation when people can read the cultural cues that every culture has. It is, however, far less healthy when life is easy. God is after our character and scripture tells us that character doesn’t come from an easy life:
…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).
A multicultural society filled with diverse backgrounds, experiences, ages, cultural mores and philosophies invites us to listen, to be patient, to be slow to speak and to be filled with grace. Another option is to withdraw, resist and resent the differences and maintain a belief in the superiority of your own culture, but that doesn’t sound like Jesus to me. God celebrates and critiques all cultures. Every culture is invited to put down their idols, repent and come to God through Christ. Christ cannot be forced into any one cultural motif. He is a Saviour for all, therefore, all are able to connect with him and relate to him. He is Lord and Saviour, Friend and Brother to the great multitude. All are welcome but all have to go through Jesus.
Jesus, may we share in your love for all people. May we let go of cultural pride and embrace humility so that we may listen, learn and love in your name. Amen.