It doesn’t take long to realize how wildly diverse the Kingdom of God is. There are Christ-followers from nearly every people group in the world, including men and women, young and old, rich and poor…all participating in a vast variety of worship traditions and styles. This diversity brings many advantages, but some challenges as well. Perhaps you have noticed, but we don’t always “play well together.”
This is not a new problem. The apostle Paul addresses it in his letter to the church in Colossi:
You have started living a new life. Your knowledge of how that life should have the Creator’s likeness is being made new. Here there is no Gentile or Jew. There is no difference between those who are circumcised and those who are not. There is no rude outsider, or even a Scythian. There is no slave or free person. But Christ is everything. And he is in everything. (Colossians 3:10-11)
In a similar passage to the church in Galatia he adds that in Christ there is no male or female.
Obviously, all these differences do exist. There are gender differences, racial differences, social differences, educational differences, etc. but in Christ, those differences hold no value. We are all equal at the foot of the cross.
So how do we live in such a diverse kingdom? How do we move forward together, working for kingdom growth, without fighting with each other?
We need to be honest with ourselves about our weakness and brokenness. None of us have it all together. None of us have the corner on truth. None of us are without issues that we need the Holy Spirit to redeem. We are no better than anyone else. We are TOTALLY dependent on God’s mercy and grace.
We need to be humble in our relationships. Simply put, we need to consider others as better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Humility can not co-exist with a judgmental attitude. The minute we start looking down on others, we have moved from humility to its archenemy, pride.
We need to forgive each other (as God, in Christ, has forgiven us, Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness is critical because no matter how hard we try, we will still sometimes fail in our relationships. We will hurt and offend each other, even those we love dearly. If our hearts can forgive, granting mercy and grace to each other, that demonstrates Christ to the people around us.
Finally, we need to love each other. This one is the hardest. God-like love involves self-sacrifice. We can convince ourselves to make sacrifices for family or close friends, but Jesus tells us also to love those we despise. He actually demonstrated this love he talked about by dying on the cross for us, while we were still enemies of the kingdom! (Romans 5:8)
If we can do all of this, the communities around us will see Jesus and want to know more about him. This can only happen through the power of the Holy Spirit. May he have freedom to move in and through us!