4. Jesus Didn’t Come to Abolish Ethnicity. He Came To Redeem It.
When Jesus instructed his followers to preach the good news to all nations (literally all people-groups), he wasn’t calling them to abolish ethnicity. In fact, Paul says that as a missionary, his job is to teach the gospel to different peoples in a way that resonates with their culture (1 Corinthians 9:20-22).
Race and ethnicity have inherent value. And that’s because humanity is created in God’s image. Different races reflect God in unique and valuable ways. To ignore the importance of these differences is to deny the value of God’s image beyond whatever the majority culture looks like. Ultimately, it makes for a small view of God.
The value of these differences is no more evident than in the apostle John’s supernatural visions of heaven:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)
When we see the multitudes worshiping in heaven, what we see is that their individual races and cultures remain intact. They’re still visibly noticeable as distinct identity markers.
And if race has value in heaven, it should have value on earth.
Engage in the Hard Work of Racial Reconciliation.
True racial reconciliation is incredibly difficult. There are no simple solutions or easy answers. But this is exactly the kind of work that Jesus has called us to do. To bring unity where there was discord. To bring love where there was once hate and suspicion. To transform opposing forces into indivisible allies.
And the fact of the matter is that true racial unity is ultimately only possible in Jesus. It’s a supernatural work that he must perform. The good news is that he wants to perform it through you and me.
So, engage in the hard work of racial reconciliation. Lean into the pain. Don’t shy away from difficult conversations and awkward moments. We won’t always get it right. But as we learn to love one another, we gain a bigger vision of what it means for heaven to meet earth.
ALSO SEE: The Case for ‘Big Tent’ Christianity
A version of this article originally appeared here.