DIVERSITY VERSUS DIVISION:
Understanding our Differences in the Body of Christ
The three great dividers of people in the world are: Race, Class, and Gender. If we were to listen to the "wisdom" of the world, we would be persuaded that the solution to such division is the elimination of all differences. The "politically correct" teach that, somehow, race must be erased. Black and white and yellow and red must be melded together to form a sort of "gray" people. Somehow all division between classes must be eradicated. Those in positions of authority must be brought down and the powerless must be raised up until all meet in the "mediocre middle" where neither failure nor success is possible. The differences between genders must be eliminated. The world says that men need to be more like women and that woman need to be more like men. The traditional ideals of masculinity and femininity need to be replaced with more "enlightened" unisex ideals where concepts of "fatherhood and motherhood" are a thing of the past.
Are these ideas that the Bible teaches? Is this "bandwagon" of political correctness something that Christians need jump on with enthusiasm or does the Bible present a different message? Let's take a moment and look at each of the three from the perspective of biblical teaching:
GENDER - There are immutable physiological and emotional differences between men and women! Is this happenstance? Is it the product of evolution's "fine-tuning," or is it God's design? The truth of the matter is that God, in His divine wisdom, created man and woman to compliment one another. In plain language, God said, "it is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him" (Gen. 2:18). In 1 Cor. 11:11-12 we read, "In the Lord, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God." While the roles of men and women are different, one is not superior to the other; both are essential. The raising and nurturing of godly families, the administration of a godly nation, and the effective ministry of the Church requires men and women doing the jobs for which they were designed and called. Diversity means strength, not division, in the body of Christ!
CLASS - Is the employer more important than his employee? Would the business run in the absence of either? Is the man who earns his living by what he does less important than the man who earns his living by what he knows? Obviously both are important and both are necessary. The builder and the designer depend on one another. The worker and the business owner depend on one another. This is true in the body of Christ as well. Even though some are called to be leaders, all are called to the ministry of service. In Paul's letter to the Ephesian church he addressed slaves and slave owners; workers and masters. He reminds them that both are ultimately accountable to Christ. All are equal in the body of Christ because all are servants, Jesus is Lord! Read Paul's words, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve whole-heartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him" (Eph. 6:5-9). In Paul's letter to the Romans he explains how all in the body of Christ, even though their gifts and callings are different, depend on one another: "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. . ." (Rom. 12:4-6). Diversity means strength, not division, in the body of Christ!
RACE - The modern preoccupation with black and white in race relations did not, for the most part, seem to have been an issue in Bible times. The eunuch that Philip led to Christ and baptized was an Ethiopian and, therefore, was surely a black man (Acts 8:27-38). There are some who contend that Moses' Cushite wife was a black woman and this was what caused Miriam and Aaron to speak against him (Num. 12:1). In neither case would the issue actually have been black and white; if there was a "racial" problem, it would have been between Hebrew and Gentile. It is interesting, though, that even the great divide between Jew and Gentile is done away with in the body of Christ for, ". . . in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two [i.e., Jew and Gentile] one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility . . ." (Eph. 2:13-14). Black, white, Jew, or Gentile; if we are believers, we are one in Christ, "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink" (1 Cor. 12:12-13). Diversity means strength, not division, in the body of Christ!
Whatever we think about the issues of race, class and gender; we must keep in mind the truth expressed in Gal. 3:26-28: "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." The grace of God is extended to both Jew and Greek without distinction; race is not a barrier to salvation. The slave is as important in the kingdom of God as the free man; class is not a barrier to Christian service. Both men and women have roles to play in the Christian home and in the Church; gender is not a barrier to Christ's calling.
PRAISE BE TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WHO MAKES US ONE!
Pastor Keith Andrews