Anyone? And Everyone!

Before we talk about what the kingdom means for people in specific life situations, we need to talk about what the kingdom means for all people.

We read in the great commission that Jesus’ last command was that his disciples “go and make disciples of all nations.” Even with such a clear command, because of the division in their world, the first disciples only focused on making disciples of Jewish people. Slowly, and through the acts of God (as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles), Christianity became a faith of all nations.

Unfortunately, through the centuries the Church has been slow to follow the “all nations” part of the great commission and sometimes even actively promoted division in the world. In our world today, sins causing division take many forms and they can seep into the church. Sins like racism, bigotry, and discrimination have no place among God’s people. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously observed that “Sunday is the most segregated day of the week.” Unfortunately, over 50 years later this is still very true.

“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:26-28

Paul lays out the dividing lines of his day and proclaims that putting on Christ in baptism unites us all in faith to become the family of God. This is a powerful truth but it is not easily enacted. Here are some insights to help the church family be a true family for all:

  • “If one member suffers, we all suffer together” (1 Corinthians 12:26) Every individual person has their own story and each story is filled with difficult experiences that we will never fully understand. People who come from different racial and ethnic groups than you have experiences that are not erased by the waters of baptism. “Not seeing color” or not recognizing other people’s experiences actually hurts people of color. Racism doesn’t go away because we want it to. It goes away when people from all backgrounds feel valued and heard. 
  • “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19) Christians should be the best listeners in the world but instead we are often quick to judge or share our opinion. If we are going to help everyone feel loved we must practice empathy. We must listen without judgment and put ourselves in the shoes of the other person. When we do speak we should be so careful. When we listen we should listen with grace.
  • “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) We all have our interests and even passions. We have ideals, politics, heritage, culture and experience that shape how we see the world. The kingdom life is a life that puts all of those things in a place far below unity and love for our brothers and sisters in the church. We strive to see the world through the eyes of Jesus first and what we hope to see is a church of disciples of all nations that can change the world!

Ask your bible study partner if you have more questions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion in the church.

Now that we’ve addressed this vital aspect of church wide culture, we can zoom in on the practical applications of the kingdom life for individuals.