Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Lesson in Diversity

It Doesn't Matter Where We are From, America, Korea, Pakistan, Canada and We ALL Love Jesus!
When I started attending a Evangelical Free Church after years of serving in the Southern Baptist Denomination I thought I was living on the edge of diversity. After all staying home on Sunday and Wednesday evening felt almost like sacrilege. I quickly got used to one trip to church a week and my husband finally felt redemption after missing The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday night TV all those years as a child. We still love our Southern Baptist roots and honestly have chosen keep their way of thinking on certain topics but have also enjoyed getting to know people who love Jesus just as much as we do who do not think the same. I guess you could say that move 16 years ago was the first time I saw how culture effects the Christian church. Now, living overseas, I can honestly say that bit of diversity was just the tip of the iceberg!

In January I began a Bible study in my home. I reached out to a handful of my oh so much like me Western friends and then gave them the freedom to invite others as well. What I ended up with really took me by surprise. Our group is a melting pot of countries and culture with one common denominator, we all love Jesus. I am adorn all of my new friends and feel honored and privileged that they come to my home. 

This week’s study was full of deep and interesting conversations. One topic of debate was baptism. For the first time I had to think about this ordinance of the church from a different perspective. For me I have always felt baptism was important but really pretty normal. When my children were baptized no one thought any thing other than, isn’t that nice. In Jesus’s day baptism identified you with that controversial Jesus guy that was crucified as a criminal. My friend from Pakistan can understand this fact a little bit better than I can because being a Christian is something that makes you a trouble maker in the midst of their culture. After all, they are in Thailand because their home was burned to the ground for just that reason. 

We all look at the world and scriptures from a different point of reference. That reference is influenced by your countries’ culture whether it be Korean, Pakistani, Thai, or American, and it is influenced by your church’s culture like denominations. Jesus’ church is extremely diverse yet over and over we are challenged to be one with each other. This is where things get difficult.

It has been very fitting that we have been studying Philippians and Colossians. Over and over again Paul is reminding the two churches don’t get away from the most important thing, Jesus. So often, I forget this and get caught up in how other people are doing life and church. If they don’t think and do like me then they must be doing it all wrong. Honestly, I was extremely convicted with Paul’s attitude toward others who were preaching the gospel with wrong motives. He basically said, “So what? Don’t worry about how they are preaching. If they are preaching Jesus, let them preach!”

I am grateful that God is stretching my narrow mindedness even though it is painful at times. I do want to be one with all my brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to quit judging and start seeking God’s heart. I want to encourage my fellow believers to seek Him, too. I want to get back to the basics of loving God and loving others.