It would be scarcely imaginable that we would fulfill this commission if we fear the presence of those to whom we are commissioned to go forth and win.
“The church is to be a reflection of the ethnic composition of our changing communities, regions and nation. The regions are becoming more diverse. The nation is becoming more diverse. Our neighborhoods are changing. Not only because of ethnic diversity but because people within ethnic groups are becoming more philosophically divergent as to world views, in the neighborhood, the region, and the nation. Our understanding of the world must be based upon the inspired and infallible Word of God, with a real discernment of the current realities of an increasingly diverse world, as we attempt to reach “our neighbors” with the transcendent and unchanging love of Christ. The church may at times lag because we tend to view the world from a small and insular perspective.
Reaching the world in Jesus’ day and in Paul’s day faced unique realities and challenges that differ from what we are surrounded by and immersed in today. (The inspired answer though, is unchanging.)
Human needs are the same and yet the gateways through which we may gain a hearing or a witness among our neighbors today requires spiritually directed and empowered efforts into the varied ethnicities of our time. Love, the one quality that can be spoken without a word, must deliver the very essence of God into the varied realities of men. The Gospel will never change, but it changes the hearts of those within a changing world.
The time for building bridges is well upon us, and if we wait, indifferently, uninformed, and uninspired to do so, generations will pass and the distance between the church and those within an increasingly diverse world and those of emerging generations will widen, as the credibility and value of the church will be lost upon a world which views it as a fortification rather than a refuge.
Building bridges over the common waters of human need is often delayed, or dismissed because of prejudice, whether that be ethnic, or simply based upon stereotypical fears. We fear what we do not know and, because we fear what we do not know, we may make little or no effort to gain the understanding needed to dispel the fear. At times we reject people because they are different because they have not passed the mustard test, and we feel safer with them not being among us.
Politically speaking the fact that the world is a much different place today plays to arguments on both sides of the refugee dilemma. The need for a reasonable mechanism that ensures the ongoing and safe immigration makes sense. Unfortunately there are those who are suffering and dying at the hands of evil parties who victimize and terrorize those whom they identify as different, weak, vulnerable, and unworthy. The enemies of freedom and democracy seek to export fear and to destroy our confidence in the virtues that set this nation apart.
The world is complex, to say the least, and it is our mission field and we have been given the heavenly resources to develop connection with every ethnicity.
We must not fear being demonized by those who choose to stay home rather than going out to invite others into this glorious hope.”
- Richard Ritenour (Not a political statement, I wrote this with regard to the engagement of the body of Christ with those of diverse life experiences in a changing world. We must be and do as Jesus!)
“In Jesus’ time here on earth there were two primary ethnicities (Jew and Gentile.) Today there are over two thousand ethnic groups in the world that have no translation.” C. Gene Wilkes