Getting to the Heart of Diversity (Andy Saperstein)

At the heart of God’s plan in history lies His promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “In you all the families (i.e. “nations,” “ethnic groups,” etc.) of the earth will be blessed.”  This promise is the shot across the bow of fractured, divided humanity – alienated from God and from one another – and stands as one of the central narratives of all Scripture.  And this promise at the beginning of the Bible foreshadows what we see at the end, in Revelation 7, where John says:

9After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10 NLT)

One of the revolutionary realities of God’s kingdom is precisely this fact – that language and culture and race and ethnicity and national identity simply do not stand as what primarily defines us as a people – the people of God are in fact the wonderful, multiethnic multitude who worship the Lamb in Revelation 7, and of which we too are a part.

At Vineyard Columbus today, we have the privilege of being part of a profoundly multiethnic church.  Even ten years ago, this church was almost entirely Caucasian, but now we are more ethnically diverse even than Franklin County itself.  God is truly gathering us together in all our diversity.

But if you are like me, the reality of the church overall, and of Main Campus weekend services in particular, is very different from your everyday life.  Birds of a feather tend to flock together, and like most birds, I too naturally tend to flock with birds whose feathers are more like mine.  Though the church is multiethnic, my life is much less so.

But if at the heart of God’s kingdom is the great multiethnic multitude worshiping the Lamb, so too God wants to transform our own individual hearts and lives to more fully embrace all the members of this multitude of which we are all a part.  God wants to change our hearts and our habits to more fully reflect His, and now is the time for us as leaders to say “yes” to His transforming touch.

On June 1, we will be hosting a Leaders’ Recharge event for all Vineyard Small Group Leaders.  At this event we will come together as a community of leaders to learn more about God’s heart for diversity and to seek Him together to make our hearts and our lives more like His.  Please do try to be there so that together we can lead our groups forward in these things that matter so much to Him.

 26For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham be