How does the gospel unite people of all backgrounds?
We recently received an email from the Superintendent of our School District informing us that the District hired a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the first time. We rejoiced that our kids would hopefully have a school environment with increased social-emotional intelligence.
I [Charlie] recently had an opportunity to meet the new Director. That day, I had gone for a run with a Korean friend and ate lunch with an African American family before attending a Fairfield Interfaith Clergy Association meeting. At the meeting, we met the Black Latina who had recently accepted the Director post for our public schools.
One of the factors that located us in Fairfield County is that it is the most diverse county in Connecticut. We long to experience a foretaste of Revelation 7.9-12 in our church so multicultural demographics are important. The eternal kingdom of God is not mono-cultural, and the Church in diverse areas shouldn’t be either.
As we learn this area, we are seeing that multicultural demographics do not create multicultural communities. And, sadly, we are learning that many types of churches seem more culturally segregated than integrated.
It reminds me [Charlie] of the dilemma facing Paul and the other apostles who carried the gospel beyond Judea into the ends of the earth. The inclusion of Gentiles into the covenants of Israel created tensions in every community of faith. The Spirit was uniting people groups on a global scale, but locally these matters were difficult to sort out. The circular letters of Galatia, Corinth, Ephesus, and Colossae all reveal day-to-day questions about how to build these multicultural communities of faith. The book of Acts chronicles a Council of Church leaders trying to understand and address these tensions (Acts 15).
At this point in American history, it does appear a “Third Reconstruction” is happening. The demographics of future generations reveal that this nation will have a non-white majority population in the coming decades. Technology is enabling a more globalized network of relationships much like the Roman roads of the first century. The gospel is well suited to unite people from a multitude of cultures. It promises to bring people of all nations into the eternal presence and community of Christ. Churches are uniquely suited for a multicultural future if we cooperate with the same Spirit who has been doing this work from the beginning.