The church is a family. We’ve all heard that. We Christians know it to be true, but we probably don’t meditate on this enough. A quick Google search on the word “diverse” gives us a simple definition; “showing a great deal of variety.” We knew that already. So is it true that the church should be a family of diverse members? Look at what the Paul has to say about this in 1st Corinthians:
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
We have diverse giftings, though given by the same Spirit, same Lord, same God. We, as a family, practice unity in diversity. Granted, this Scripture is speaking of diverse spiritual gifts (teaching, prophecy, evangelism, administrations, helps, tongues, etc…). Many times, we assume diversity is limited to skin color, socio-economic status, age, or some other external quality. While the Bible does address those issues, our identity in Christ far supersedes any other cultural claim we may have. Each part of our physical bodies (arm, mouth, ear, etc…) have a very distinct role in the operation of our bodies, and so it is with the church of Christ.
Cultural diversity seems to be a secondary issue, meaning that the unity in Christ is our focus, and cultural diversity follows. Later, in verse 13 of the same chapter in 1st Corinthians, Paul says, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one spirit.” You see, our diverse gifts, as well as our diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics, work together to paint a beautiful mosaic of Jesus Christ, making His beauty known to the world!
Unity is to be brought around Christ and His gospel. Diversity should never cause division, and yet, I get the sense that the Lord is bringing diverse people into His church through our gospel centered ministry efforts. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV). In other words, when our churches follow the great commission locally, regionally, nationally, and globally, diversity happens, both in giftings as well as cultural diversity. We should never limit the scope of our Kingdom proclamation to certain types of people (1 Timothy 2:1-7), yet we should be intentionally reaching those who have less gospel influence.
Galatians 3:28-29 sums it up pretty well:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)
In this passage, we see that we are adopted children of God into a diverse family of believers; brothers and sisters who are all united as one in Christ. Isn’t this good news church?!