A Christ-like Approach to Diversity
Many pressing questions regarding diversity are facing Americans today. People throughout our nation find themselves disagreeing with each other on issues of border control, social justice, and equality.
What does it mean to protect our borders?
How should we approach immigration?
What is the appropriate response to racial tension?
These are important issues and America is divided. Historically, America has been a place with open arms. Nothing portrays this more than the Statue of Liberty, on which is the quote, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Americans face serious tension, disagreement, and unrest. The most recent point of disagreement is immigration restriction. It is important to note that in Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution, the United States government is entrusted with the responsibility to protect the union from invasion.
On January 27, President Trump issued an executive order prohibiting travel to and from seven primarily Muslim countries (npr.org) in a supposed attempt to protect our nation. Pew Research has provided information showing that 59% of surveyed Americans disapprove of the order while 38% approve. Whites, blacks, and hispanics all disagree with each other and disagree amongst themselves about the policy.
Further, on March 6, 2017, Trump issued another executive order restricting entry into the U.S. by people from six Muslim countries rather than the seven in the initial order. The country that has been removed from the list is Iraq. Heated comments have been made by certain political leaders such as House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chair, Don Perez while other leaders such as Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan are in favor of the ban and support Trump (ABC). Organizations such as the ACLU accused Trump of practicing “religious discrimination.”
As disciples of Jesus Christ, what should our response be to this intense division?
Should we agree with Trump’s Order or disagree?
How can we reflect Christ and bring peace in a world that is facing turmoil, especially in the arena of ethnic tension?
How can we respond in a way that shows the grace and love of Jesus, yet firmly stands in our Biblical convictions?
First, Christians must not be so tightly married to a certain political party or view that we forsake Biblical mandates. We must not be so entirely wrapped up in our identity as American citizens that we forsake our identity as citizens of the eternal Kingdom of God.
Second, we must realize the importance of looking within our borders for opportunities to embrace diversity in a Christ-like manner. Pew reports that America is becoming increasingly ethnically diverse. It is projected that by 2055, there will be no ethnic majority in the U.S.
It is vital that we remember our mission as disciples of Christ. The primary effort our lives should be to passionately spread the incredible news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our nation and to all the peoples of the Earth.
So while what the government does regarding border control is beyond the reach of local churches, our communities are not out of our reach. Our ultimate goal should be to know Jesus and to make him known. Make him known in our neighborhoods. Make him known in our grocery stores, in our cities, and in our schools. Our goal should be to love each person that is put before us.
Jesus was the ultimate advocate of diversity. For instance, take the story of the Samaritan woman whom Jesus met at the well. Jewish history tells us that Samaritans were strongly disliked by Jews. They were seen as invalids. They were marginalized.
John tells us in chapter 4 of his Gospel that Jesus boldly and graciously approached this woman whom his people mocked and despised. He went against the grain of his culture to show her that he cared.
He saw her. He acknowledged her. He spoke to her. He showed genuine concern for her life.
Jesus, being God, not only expressed a deep interest in the matters of her life, but forgave her of her sins. With open arms he extended the invitation of his Kingdom to her by saying, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23, ESV).
God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom that Jesus ushered in, was not just for the Jews. Jesus came so that the whole world might be saved. He came so that the healthy and sick; wealthy and poor; sad and joyful; sinners and saints; minorities and majorities can all come together as one bride of Christ and worship him forever.
In the 10th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, we read the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus taught that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, one must love God with all his being and love his neighbor as himself.
Who is my neighbor?
In the parable, a Jewish man was robbed and beaten. Multiple of his fellow Jews passed him by, not giving a second thought to helping him. Finally, a Samaritan, a despised man who was supposed to be good for nothing, came along and not only tended to the man’s injuries, but he put him in a hotel and paid for all of his expenses.
Neighbors are people who sacrifice themselves for one another.
Neighbors are not necessarily people who have the same talents, the same job, the same skin color, the same political views, the same religious beliefs, the same state, or the same country.
Neighbors are people who love one another and joyfully give of their lives for each other.
Jesus made no discrimination between cultural groups. In fact, he created every people group. Every distinct people group on the face of the Earth contains human beings that are created in the image of God, by God, and for the glory of God. The Kingdom of God welcomes all, making no discrimination of any sort based on race, gender, or economic status (Galatians 3:28, ESV).
Cultural distinctions should be celebrated.
As disciples of Christ, cultural diversity is not our end goal. Our end goal is to carry the earth shaking reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the ends of the Earth.
Revelation 7:9 says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
People from every tribe in the world will be included in the God’s Heavenly City.
If Jesus has given us the commission to take his Gospel to all the world, which he has; and if Jesus has instructed us to love our neighbors, no matter their background, which he has; and if Jesus has told us that every culture will be represented in Zion, which he has; then it is our privilege and our duty to champion the beauty of every child of God and embrace the diversity that naturally results.
So that we may reflect our Savior.
So that we may bring praise to his glorious name.
So that all the world may know how wide, deep, great is the infinite love of Christ our King.