SERVANTS OF A DIVERSE CHURCH
God turned Paul’s whole world upside down when he came to Christ. Paul’s miraculous meeting with Jesus and his conversion to Christianity didn’t only change his religion. It permanently altered who Paul understood the people of God were and who he spent his time with.
As a Jewish man following Pharisaic law, Paul had been taught his entire life to avoid the Gentiles. The Gentiles were godless, unclean, and without hope. Paul might have spent his whole life only gathering with likeminded Jews, only caring for the people who were like him had it not been for the grace of God.
MAKE IT PLAIN TO EVERYONE
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.” God’s gift of grace moved Paul to preach to those who he was most dissimilar from so that he could “make it plain to everyone” the truth that God’s people now included anyone.
In the same way, if you have been saved by the gospel, you are called to be a servant of the gospel. If we’re going to be agents of grace and not just recipients of it, we have to love people who are different than us. Unity is everyones responsibility and even apathy is in opposition to God’s will for the church. Anytime that we don’t take up the opportunity to love those who look different than us, we miss an opportunity to reveal the gospel to the world.
THE CHANGING FACE OF THE CHURCH
If we are going to be the church—both the capital “c” Church and the thriving local church—we need to follow Paul’s example of revising who we think the people of God are. The reality is that the global church is changing rapidly. The majority of our Christian brothers and sisters in this world are not and will continue to not be white, nor will they be Americans. It’s estimated that North America and Europe have about 286 and 588 million believers respectively, while Asia, Latin America, and Africa have an estimated 1.3 billion believers combined. In his book, The Next Christenndom, Philip Jenkins asserts, “By 2050 only about one-fifth of the world’s 3.2 billion Christians will be non-Hispanic whites.”
Likewise, census data from 2014 revealed that there are more minority children than white children under the age of five in the United States. The days of white churches, black churches, and hispanic churches need to come to a swift close if God is going to move through us in power. Continuing to follow Paul’s pattern, we need to be agents of grace and servants of the gospel towards those who are different from us. If we divide ourselves along the same lines the world does, the church will not make God’s grace and power plain to everyone.
As a recipient and servant of grace, begin with these three prayers to work towards unity in the church today:
1 // Confess
God, please reveal to me how I have allowed or even encouraged division among your people.
2 // Request
God, fill us with the power to overcome divisions and work together as Your church, declaring Your wisdom to the world and in the spiritual realm.
3 // Commit
God, show me who you want me to love, learn from, and welcome into the church.