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)
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10)
The Apostle John was given an astonishing gift: a picture of a heavenly worship service. Noticeably absent from this picture is a white church. Neither is there an African-American, Asian-American, first-generation immigrant or second-generation immigrant church. There is no Ethiopian or Ecuadorian church, no Burmese or British church, no Turkish or Tanzanian church. There is no college church, no retirement church. Rather, what we find is a group from every tribe, tongue, and nation, a group that spans generations (literally, millennia!), a group undivided by socioeconomic status or political leaning. What we are shown in Revelation 7 is the (capital-C) Church of Jesus Christ. What we are shown is heaven.
When I contemplate this glorious heavenly worship service and contrast it with the churches I see around me, I wonder if we are even truly praying for God’s Kingdom to come and his will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. I wonder if we even believe that heaven will be any better than earth. After all, if we aren’t pursuing heavenly realities now, there’s no reason to believe we desire the Lord’s coming, no reason to believe we desire what heaven holds.
Brothers and sisters, on this side of glory, diverse churches are a struggle. It gets messy. We step on toes, put feet in mouths; we offend and are offended. But the joy that comes from this diversity – its difficulty not withstanding – is absolutely worth it. If I can adapt a word from our brother Paul to close:
For I consider that the difficulties of diversity in this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…
This is Part 3 of a 3-Part Series. You can view Parts 1 and 2 by clicking on the links below.