Monday, November 30, 2009

Diversity

I was in two different churches yesterday and encouraged to see what God is doing in both of them. Sometimes it appears that interest in the church is at an all time low and the very survival of the church is in question. But then there are days like yesterday when it is evident that Jesus is building his church just as he promised - "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of death will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:17-18).

One of the things that struck me about both churches was their diversity. It is always thrilling to see churches characterized by diversity. Healthy churches should reflect the diversity of their surroundings in the sense that there should be people of different ages, backgrounds, races, interests, levels of wealth and education. Monolithic churches where everyone comes from the same or similar backgrounds are better than no church at all but they are not all that they should be. We want to see the gospel transforming the lives of all different kinds of people because we know that Jesus came to draw "all people" to himself (John 12:32) and this is exactly what he will do in the end.

Churches that are composed of a diverse group of believers are also more likely to attract people because newcomers can find someone they relate to in the congregation. This makes them more likely to grow and increases their ability to minister to the neighborhood where they are located. All this is good because churches exist to glorify God by sharing his good news with others and by living out the power of the gospel in their lives. As dark as it appears at times, God is not done with the world. As long as it is called "today" he continues to call people back into relationship with himself. The church has been called an "outpost of heaven" and as we live out our calling God works through our feeble efforts to accomplish his purposes. One day we will see the grandeur of those purposes, and when we do, any sacrifices we have made will seem paltry in comparison.

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