The United States has been known around the world as a “melting pot” of nationalities and cultures. Chinese, Malaysian, Russian, Mexican: people from all walks of life blend together in its city streets; even the streets of downtown Greenville are populated by a diverse mix of people from across the globe.
But, sadly, this conglomeration is seldom reflected in our Christian circles. In fact, our Christian communities are surprisingly segregated. We split off into white churches, black churches, Asian churches, Spanish churches and more, with little interaction between our congregations. It’s natural to assemble for worship with a group of people with whom we personally identify in terms of cultural background. The problem comes when groups of believers from different ethnic backgrounds distance themselves from one another without cause.
It seems American believers have grown cliquish, allowing insignificant differences, such as race and color, to disrupt unity. But believers ought not to divide along lines of color and nationality. Instead, the universal church ought to be a body where believers from every kindred and tongue and tribe and nation, though all very different, come together in unified worship and service of their Savior.
The apostle Paul said to the believers in Rome, “There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him (Romans 10:12, emphasis added).”
It’s not our cultural differences that should define our relationships, but rather our identity in Christ.
“Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,” Paul says again, this time to the church in Galatia. He continues: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).
Our ethnic backgrounds are strong forces in shaping us into who we are, but something much stronger far outweighs those backgrounds: the identity of all believers as one in Christ. This is an identity that should transcend all racial and cultural barriers and unite us in the one great desire to serve the Savior.
Though we may belong to separate local church congregations, believers can and should still bond together as Christ’s universal church. Taking a lesson from the early church, we ought to pray for one another, give to meet one another’s needs and strive to help one another shine for Christ in a dark world.