“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.John 17:20-23)
The Body of Christ . . . though many different faces, God's desire is for us to be one people! If we all spoke alike, dressed alike, and lived in a like culture, think how boring we would be as a people! The diversity brings unity in such a special way! In fact, it is a God-thing!!!
We all realize that many churches are not as diverse as they should be. Most church members resemble one another in skin color, lifestyle, economic background, and culture. While this in many cases cannot be helped, it does lend to a predictable and matter-of-fact way of worship. In fact, we begin to believe that our way of doing church (prayer, praise, worship, outreach)is the right way! It is human nature to think this way.
However, as I have been able to witness in my travels, God is so much bigger than my church. I have been challenged and extremely blessed by a culturally diverse Body of Christ over the years. I have come to realize it is ok to raise my hands in praise when I feel the desire. It is acceptable worship to have guitar, sax, piano, banjo, bongos, organ, steel drums, even a worship choir in t-shirts and no shoes! I have been to services in elaborate temples, school rooms, warehouse facilities, former bank buldings, theatres, outdoor parks, and street corners.
God is indeed for all people and in any circumstance! His desire is for us to be on one accord with the Father . . . so that He receives the glory from our lives . . . not our style or culture!
Here is a peek at what worship will be like in heaven . . .
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne,and to the Lamb.”(Revelation 7:9-10)
Our churches may not be in an environment to be blessed to experience a wide variety of culture, but we can be deliberate in our efforts to serve with those not like us and to experience God's diversity. Outreach programs, service projects, short-term missions, and mission support all allow various cultures to be shared and experienced. We must be careful however to never bring anything to our service but a servant's heart and a love for Christ and His people! I can promise you that the blessings you receive will outweigh anyting you may do for others!
Though Many Faces, One People . . . not just a slogan for one people or one nation, but for the Christian race! It is Jesus' prayer for His people. May this be our prayer as well!