As Christians, we are called to be united. So how can we make a difference in bringing unity to the church?
Pastor and church planter Thabiti Anyabwile points to Revelation to affirm the importance of building multi-ethnic churches.
“I think the multi-ethnic church in the end will be ‘the church.’ We look at Revelation 5, Revelation 7; God is gathering for himself people from every tribe, language and nation around his throne and around his Son.
“We want to see that more and more in our own day. We will see it in the final day, but we want to see it more and more in our own day because we are made to be one family, reconciled in Christ through His sacrifice on the cross.”
He emphasizes the importance of keeping the focus on Christ and the Word of God.
“In order to see a healthy multi-ethnic church you have to emphasize that what we’re rallying around is Christ and His Word. That’s the center of the church, that’s the life of the church, that Christ and our identity in Christ is the main thing.”
That doesn’t mean that we disregard our ethnic identity and cultural distinctions, Thabiti adds, it just means we have to take off our cultural blinders to see what is bringing about disunity in the church.
“You got to do that slow hard work of saying, ‘Okay, in what ways are our fallen, ethnic cultures reflective of the fact that we’re made in the image of God and God honoring?’ We want to keep that and treasure that.”
“In what ways are our cultural leanings fallen and need to be redeemed? Or fallen and need to be rejected as contrary to the gospel and contrary to the work of Christ?
Thabiti reminds us that we need each other to develop a multi-ethnic church.
“To be able to do that work, we need each other. This is one of the ways in which a multi-ethnic church is a blessing over mono-ethnic churches — where you don’t have that exchange, one between the other.”
How can we pursue a vision for multi-ethnic churches?
It starts by recognizing that the church belongs to Christ and we need to come together as one family who delights in every member.
“You just have to have a situation where it’s not one ethnic group, ‘This is basically our church and we welcome you to our church.’
But it’s got to be, ‘This is Christ’s church and we’re all members of it. We recognize leadership and giftedness across the ethnic members that we have and we celebrate that and share in that,’ so that everybody sees himself in the family photo and everybody is blessed by the various gifts and perspectives that God has given to his people.’”