Nations are political constructs. They come and go. Don’t get attached.

There is only one race – human. Race is an invention of white supremacists seeking to justify chattel slavery. 

But, there are many ethnicities. 

Christians come in all shapes and sizes.

Not long ago, I was seated at a conference table with some of the most compassionate healthcare workers on the planet. A very commonly heard statement was made: “I don’t see color.” 

Of course, we all knew what was meant – this person is not prejudiced and views people as individuals. No one was offended.

Nevertheless, when we say, “I don’t see color,” it can feel to a person of color as if we are dismissing their culture.

America at its best has historically been a place where people of all ethnicities and cultures are welcome, a land of immigrants, a land of opportunity. “Bring me your tired, poor, wretched masses …” 

Nowadays it too often feels like the welcome only applies to light skinned English-speaking Europeans from what was once Christendom. All others need not apply. Bad hombres.  Only those willing to assimilate are really welcome.

Missionaries in past generations made the mistake of expecting, for example, Polynesians to dress, eat, and act like Puritans in Massachusetts.

All of us are part of at least one people-group. We have cultures – heritages, customs, foods, music, dances, styles, and languages that reflect those cultures. If there are negatives within those cultures, we need to let them go, but most of those traditions are beautiful. 

God’s Kingdom is made up of individuals from every conceivable heritage and tradition on the planet. God delights in variety. God has no desire that we homogenize into a bland sameness. Look at nature – God loves variety and diversity. 

The truly multicultural faith community is rare. Many churches will welcome anyone, but the music, the styles of dress, the forms of worship, and the physical appearance of the meeting place reflect the dominant culture. Others are welcome but expected to assimilate. 

I know a church known for its racial diversity. On closer examination, however, the white people run the church and control the finances. The black folk serve communion. I know another church that is half Cambodian and half Old White Yankees. The old white Yankees are learning to speak Khmer and enjoy samlor korkor; the Cambodians are getting a taste for Boston baked beans.

A truly multicultural community of faith is often messy. It requires a great deal of charity and understanding, effort and teachableness. It requires more than setting aside one Sunday a year to celebrate minority cultures. Burritos at the potluck closest to Cinco de Mayo don’t cut it. Of all places, the church should reflect the Kingdom. It should be multicultural, multiethnic, multilinguistic, and multigenerational, celebrating the vast varieties of food, dance, and traditions of God’s world. Everyone should not only be welcome, but also have an equal place at the table.

Isaiah 55 “Come, everyone who thirsts,come to the waters;and he who has no money,come, buy and eat!Come, buy wine and milkwithout money and without price.Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,and your labor for that which does not satisfy?Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me;hear, that your soul may live;and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,a leader and commander for the peoples.Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,for he has glorified you.“Seek the Lord while he may be found;call upon him while he is near;let the wicked forsake his way,and the unrighteous man his thoughts;let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord, For as the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your waysand my thoughts than your thoughts.10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heavenand do not return there but water the earth,making it bring forth and sprout,giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;it shall not return to me empty,but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.12 “For you shall go out in joyand be led forth in peace;the mountains and the hills before youshall break forth into singing,and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;and it shall make a name for the Lord,an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (ESV)

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter

Posted on July 26, 2020, in anabaptist, Bible, Bible Teaching, Christianity, creation, Jesus, Justice, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, parables, Peace Shalom Hesed, Poetry, Spirituality, The Cross, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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