Like never before, events of recent weeks give weight to the claim that tribalism in American society has never been greater than it is today. Division between groups and protests dominate the news every day. How should we as Christians think about this? Of course, we’re all different, but how should our differences locate us in one nation, or one local church for that matter? What does the Bible tell us about how we should identify ourselves—by our race, our gender, something else, or all of the above in some way? And further how should we relate our own identity toward that of others?
Turns out the Bible has a great deal to say about these questions of our identity, our diversity, and how God intends for them both to unite in a nation, a culture, a church, or any group for that matter. These are deep issues in our common humanity created in the image of God and God has made clear his desires for us in these matters. Our churches, in particular, should be places where God’s heart in this question should be on display, but too often they mirror the same missteps of tribalism as the culture. I know that I, as a member of the dominant/majority group, for example, must hear from Scripture about my obligation to the minority “others” and to grow in my awareness of how my group-outlook can affect others—even when I don’t intend it!
These and other issues of our diverse identities are matters that I have explored further in a Biola Learn series, called Love One Another: Pursuing Unity in Church Diversity. In this five-lesson series we explore the Bible’s deep and profound knowledge of our common yet diverse humanity. Among other topics, in this series we will observe:
- That differences among us are not to be feared, but welcomed as truly good and enriching part of our life. God loves a diverse creation, and so should we.
- That differences among us are intended by God as means to serve others, not as means of taking pride in or serving ourselves.
- That both majority and minority group members of a culture, nation, or church have obligations to the other groups. The nation of Israel has much to tell us in this regard.
- That majority group members are especially called to vigilance regarding the way their majority status can subtly dictate unspoken cultural norms to the minority. The New Testament calls for this vigilance in matters of our racial, gender, theological, economic and other differences.
- That Christians’ identity is first a question of a unity in Christ, then comes how that unity is expressed to serve others by means of our differences.
- That service to “different others,” like service to any “other,” is possible only from a secure position before God. We have all we need for this in Jesus Christ.
- That churches especially can organize and program for the reality of their spiritual identity in Christ. In this way they can be a light to the culture that is more and more disintegrating into its diversity “tribes”.
Outside the reign of the Anointed Servant King of the Living God, who is coming to rule this earth and take back the nations as his inheritance (Psalm 2), the American motto e pluribus unum (“from many one”) will always be hijacked by our sin. We feel that stain in the news cycle every day. Only our loving and good Creator has the means that make peace and flourishing possible in the beautiful mosaic of our different but united humanity. May God give us His grace to hear His voice in Scripture, and to grow more and more into the image that bears His name.
Use promo code GBB15 for 15 percent off the Love One Another: Pursuing Unity in Church Diversity course. Send your feedback, questions, and suggestions about Biola LEARN to firstname.lastname@example.org.