One of our Core Values states that the Gospel makes us one. The Gospel
breaks down all barriers (race, class, gender, age) and makes all who claim
Jesus as Lord and Savior one in Him (Gal. 3:28). Unity cannot be overem-
phasized. The Father chose in eternity not merely to save a collection of
individuals, but to redeem a people (Eph. 1:4). Jesus died to sitelish everything that separated us from one another and to make us one in Him (Eph. 2:13-15). The Holy Spirit takes very different people, makes us one (1 Cor. 12:13) and miraculously enables us to love one another. Why? Why does God want His church to experience such diversity in unity and unity in diversity? There are at least three reasons:
First, God is an Evangelist. Jesus prayed that “all (believers) may be one…so that the world may believe that You sent Me (Jn. 17:21). The biggest obstacle against the claims of Christianity is the divided church. To be an effective witness for reconciliation in the world, the church must sitenstrate what it declares. It must show those outside that inside it has done the job of reconciling like and unlike. It is natural for “birds of a feather to flock together” but when very different people become one, the world cannot help but notice. How do you account for such unity in diversity? Our answer is simple: the basis of our unity is the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us. The Gospel applied by the Spirit makes us one.
Second, God is a Teacher. People learn best when they discuss truth in a context of peace (unity) with people from very different backgrounds (diversity). Developing relationships with Christians of other races and ethnic groups: a) strengthens our faith as we experience the power of the Gospel to transcend cultures, b) challenges us to consider if our convictions are truly Christian or simply middle class American, and c) enables us to learn from the strengths of different cultures and Christian traditions. Diversity in unity is essential for authentic Christian growth (1 Cor. 12).
Third, God is a Father. As a father, few things bring me greater delight than to see my children loving and enjoying one another. On the other hand, nothings grieves me more than my children ignoring one another, going their own ways, wanting nothing to do with each other. How much more must our Father be grieved when He sees His children fighting with each other or living in “peace” at a distance. On the other hand, how it must delight Him when He sees all His very different children loving each other because they know His love for them (1 Jn. 4:19-20).
We will seek to be a church that reflects the diversity of our context.
We will celebrate what Christ is doing through other churches and ministries.
We will partner with them to learn from them, and to serve one another and the city.
And we will continually preach the Gospel to ourselves. The cause of disunity is sin—in particular, pride and fear. We look down on those we view as inferior to us (morally, culturally or financially). We are intimidated by those we view as superior (Gal 5:26). Only the Gospel can humble us (we are saved by grace) and make us confident (we are in Him), so that we “accept one another as Christ has accepted us” (Rom 15:17).
Christ Christ has accepted us! This means that in spite of our pride, fear and divisions, one day we will stand before Him with a “great multitude, which no man can count, from every nation, tribe, people and language
(Rev. 7:9), worshiping Him as one people. Until then, we can be a herald, a sign and a foretaste of
that great day.