Racial Reconciliation and Embracing Cultural Diversity
"Minorities, now roughly one-third of the U.S. population, are expected to become the majority in 2042, with the nation projected to be 54 percent minority in 2050. By 2023, minorities will comprise more than half of all children" (from the U.S. Census Bureau 2008).
In his book Right Color, Wrong Culture Brian Loritts explains it this way. "By 2050 for the first time in the history of our nation, whites will become the majority minority. Or to phrase it another way, whites will become the minority for the first time since coming here centuries ago." Loritts also points out that the church is currently lagging behind in the shift to this multi-ethinic age to come (and that is to an extent already here), when it should be leading the way. Based on the 80/20 rule, only 2.5 percent of all the churches of Jesus Christ in the U.S. qualify as multi-ethnic.
This major shift is reason enough to take action for racial reconciliation and embracing the cultural diversity. However, the church in the United States, for the most part, seems content within its mono-ethnic bubble. However, I am hopeful that the church will be shaken, moved by love and the power of the Holy Spirit, to be transformed more into its perfected, heavenly form. Though there are many reasons why we should have a vested interest in racial reconciliation and embrace cultural diversity, I would like to provide four main reasons.
1. For the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). The Great Commission calls for us to make disciples of all nations. What does that look like for us in our local context? It means we are not called to just love and invest in those who are like us, those of the same color and culture. Rather we have been commissioned to love and invest in people of other cultures, tribes, and nationalities for the sake of the gospel. As we are seeking to be invested in and invest in students of Christ, are we working towards being a student of their culture? This can be challenging if we are more focused on the “decision” or the fruit of discipleship than on the person.
2. For the sake of unity and reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). The only hope for unity and racial reconciliation is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though other groups may demonstrate concern and good intentions for racial unity, they ultimately will fall short in their purpose and power. It is the hope of the gospel that motivates and empowers transformation from brokenness to restoration. As ministers of reconciliation we have been commissioned by God with the hope of the gospel in hand to see His heavenly kingdom established and advanced in the earth!
3. For your sanctification and the maturing of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). The way most churches are set up and operated, it makes it challenging to see all believers as members of the one body of Christ. It's often too easy for churches in the same community to do their own thing as they proclaim a gospel that unites all tribes, tongues, and cultures. This passage highlights that the body of Christ is the ultimate melting pot of cultures, rhythms, and traditions. Whether Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, or African-American or white, the church is to be a unified community of diversity. God uses these differences to build up and challenge one another into maturity.
4. For loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). For most of us, this is a whole lotta love. Think about how much we accommodate ourselves for comfort and convenience. Think about how much we desire to be respected, heard, and understood. Then, to the same degree of intentionality, depth, and devotion as our love of self, God tells us to demonstrate that measure of love toward others (those like you as well as those not like you). This requires willingness to see from their perspective, listen to their hurt or needs, and celebrate their strengths and contributions.
I would argue that the church is stronger when it embraces cultural diversity in its rhythms and relationships. Believers of all cultures are bound together by the blood of Christ, and every culture has its strengths and weaknesses. So, there is value in those cultures embracing the awkwardness and mingling together on mission. As we work together, let us seek understanding and unity. I pray that we would be open to not just voicing our own perspective, but learning from others' perspective. I pray that we move toward celebrating and embracing cultural diversity to the glory of God and for our good.
"For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." 1 Corinthians 9:19-23