The second chapter of Unleashed, titled Kaleidoscope by Daryl Reed, discusses the need for racial diversity in our churches. That's something I've always admired in our family of churches. The most common reaction from visitors is surprise at the diversity of our congregation. I don't say that to boast, only to point out that our racial diversity gives us diversity in cultural perspective. For example my wife just learned some cultural norms regarding Latin families that helped explain an issue that came up in a Bible study. What is interesting is how some of our cultural habits affect not only our relationships but also our relationship with God. For some of us, it's a pressure that we have to be perfect. For others, it is patriarchal roles we feel we need to fulfill. Yet the diversity in our churches, when put together in unity in Christ, overcomes these traditions to create a beautiful mosaic.
The same is also true in denominational diversity. "Non-denominational" is a popular evangelical marketing term that only means you're not a part of a larger governing body over your church, but it says nothing about your doctrine or your historical tradition. True non-denominationalism is when the only thing that unifies is not doctrinal agreement, but the single standard of the Word of God. This diversity was evident in another Bible study my wife and I were having. Looking around the room, and talking about our religious backgrounds, it became clear that every one of us came from a different brand of "Christianity". But we were able to put aside our personal traditions when faced with the truths found in Scripture. The study was filled with, "I used to believe ____ but then I studied it out for myself and found that ___." Just as the multicolored mosaic creates a beautiful picture of unity in Christ, so does the mosaic formed by our unique religious traditions.
Daryl Reed notes that racial diversity is necessary in our churches for the sake of reflecting those to whom we are called to spread the Gospel ("every nation" or ethne in the Great Commission) and to reflect the unity Christ compels us to that overcomes any racial barrier. The same holds true for our doctrine. Carl Medearis makes this point in a recent CNN belief blog article. His point is that our evangelism should not be focused on converting to a specific doctrine, but rather to lead others to Jesus. It is in Him alone that we are saved into a single, unified body. This is not ecumenism or inter-denominationalism, for those do not create unity within walls but rather sweeps issues under the rug as "non-essentials". Instead, this is taking our experiences as a whole and examining them through the lens of the Bible and the example of Christ's own life.
If our churches can overcome racial divisions in the name of Jesus then we can unite under the banner of Christ alone.
"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)
"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:3-6)