Diversity in the Church: Christ’s Love for All
October 23, 2019
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One way that Christians can demonstrate their love for Christ is by how they love people—all kinds of people. Not just those who look like us or speak our language, but also those who come from different social and cultural backgrounds. According to Ed Stetzer, a Christian pastor and researcher, diverse churches remain rare. He wrote, “Everybody wants diversity, but many don’t want to be around people who are different.”
The early Christian churches were diverse on multiple levels, which fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah that Jesus Christ quoted in Mark 11:17, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?’” The Apostle Paul personally experienced the abundant diversity in the church of Antioch, where for the first time Jewish and Gentile Christians worshipped God together as equals (Acts 11:19-26).
It is good to remember that underneath our varied cultural heritage, personal preferences, political views, and economic backgrounds, we all share the oneness of being children of God. As Christians we are charged to connect to all peoples of all cultures. As believers, we have been united with Christ through salvation. All of those who are one with Jesus Christ are one with each other. Paul writes in Galatians 3:28, “In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
World travel, increased immigration, and modern technology have brought us closer to peoples from all over the world. As believers, we need to get rid of the fear and anxiety that separate us from one another. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are no longer “strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God…” (Ephesians 2:19). Where there is diverse membership, the church benefits from the perspectives and gifts each racial, cultural, and socio-economic group offers. A church that represents all the colors of the rainbow gets to enjoy the beauty of that rainbow.
Our church should be a gathering of people radiantly living the command from Jesus when He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Christ’s love extended to all kinds of people—the rich, the poor, the sick, Gentiles, Samaritans, the lovable, and the unlovable. Christ’s love must motivate and compel us to extend the same love to others. As His disciples, we are to follow His example. Our walk and our attitude should resemble our Master’s walk.
Revelation 7:9 provides a forecast of the diversity that will be present in Heaven: “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” I look forward to that great and wonderful day. But in the meantime, let us prepare our hearts by encouraging and celebrating diversity today!
Pastor Dudley Rutherford is the senior pastor of Shepherd Church, which has been called “the most diverse congregation” in L.A. by the city’s mayor and has three campuses in the Greater Los Angeles area. He is the author of “Compelled: The Irresistible Call to Share Your Faith” (available everywhere books are sold online). You can connect with Dudley on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.