A Church for Everyone: Being an International and Invitational Church
Part 2: Diversity & Intentionality
By Pastor Seeyong Lee, Korean & International Ministries-
As I’ve come to learn more about this church and the surrounding community, I’ve asked myself why the vision of an “international” or “multicultural” church matters now. I shouldn’t have been surprised that the answer to this question revealed itself to me through God’s word in scripture.
- Diversity and Unity in Christ: One Body with Many Parts
We are all connected as one body with many parts in Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many...Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinth. 12:12-14, 27).
We are one body and one family in the Lord, although we are diverse in culture, social class, status and even personal character. One body is given one Spirit. We may be made up of many different parts, but we are not divided – we are united in Christ. Do not be ashamed of our diversities and differences, but be proud of them, because God made us that way.
- Spiritual Equity: A Weaker Part Gets Greater Care
Since we are different from each other, we are often judged or treated differently in the world. However, in Christ, the weaker parts get greater care so that the whole body can be healthy. The Apostle Paul also wrote, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinth. 12:21-26).
A weaker part of one body needs more care. No one race or culture is above the other. “All are created equal” by God.
- Spiritual Equity in Action
Reflecting on recent events, it’s important to remember that we practice the Apostle Paul’s teachings by supporting black lives. Some say, “Why do only black lives matter? All lives matter!” Well, our black brothers and sisters are in danger and have been treated unjustly, compared to our white siblings. For instance, “Black people are twice as likely to be killed by a police officer while unarmed, compared to white individuals. According to a 2015 study, African Americans died at the hands of police at a rate of 7.2 per million, while white people were killed at a rate of 2.9 per million.” This is clearly a reflection of racial injustice. When one part suffers, all suffer.
In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”
We are keepers of our brothers and sisters, especially when they suffer. God doesn’t call us to be spiritual for only ourselves. God calls us to put our beliefs into action by caring for the weak.