Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches


When I began writing this article, I had no idea where it would go. I guess I was initially energized by our Federal Government's recently renewed emphasis upon and commitment to multiculturalism and making it work. This is a huge social issue and will become more so as our immigration policy welcomes increasing numbers of people from an ever-growing and diverse ethnic base.

Since my last posting, I have tried to think this through from what I hope is a Christian position on this subject. Suddenly I realised something that is important to embrace. From a Christian perspective, I know where multiculturalism will be practiced to perfection. The Apostle John saw it and this is what he recorded….

"After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a mighty shout, "Salvation comes from our God on the throne and from the Lamb!"And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell face down before the throne and worshiped God. They said,"Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdomand thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and forever. Amen!" (Rev 7:9-12  NLT)

While this full expression of multiculturalism awaits its time, there is now one setting where we ought to be able to catch a glimpse of it albeit in an imperfect expression.

I refer to the Church.

Here is a classic example of what I said earlier - that beliefs determine values and values determine culture. The Church is meant to be a community in which people from every nation, tribe and language embrace the values of their King and live together in unity. But not perfect unity. Not yet. Jesus Christ, Head of the Church and Lord of all, was not a racist. And the community He founded is not meant to be racist either.

For example, the Jewish people considered themselves superior to the Samaritan people. In both His teaching and practice, Jesus placed all people on an equal footing. The story of the Good Samaritan offended His Jewish audience. Jesus' willingness to minister to Gentiles (non-Jews) and care for them no less than He did His own Jewish people.

If we believe the teaching of Jesus and His authority as Lord of our lives, we will accept His values and make them our own. Those values will then shape and determine our culture.

Now wait just a moment!!   Does this mean that those who make up the Community of the King and the Kingdom have one culture, not many? There are many races (ethnic groups) in Heaven but only one culture based upon the acceptance of King Jesus' values!! Sure, that culture may reflect a variety of colours and flavour that such a diverse group brings to the Kingdom but it is still one culture.

How we express that unity will be diverse but the undergirding values are the same. I think that the diversity of the Church expressed in the many denominations that exist is an example of unity in diversity. I don't get stressed about denominations. As someone once said, "It takes all kinds of Churches to reach all kinds of people!"  What I do get stressed about is when one 'denomination' perceives itself to be better or superior to another. That's a form of spiritual racism that denies the values of the Kingdom and sets up a conflicting culture.

So what we have in the Church is a multi-racial company ("…… from every nation and tribe and people and language…") but a mono-cultural company - all seeking to live by one set of values. But it is multiracial, not multicultural. Yes, I know, that contradicts what I said in the opening paragraphs - maybe?

This is how the Apostle Paul explained it…. So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians — you are one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:26-28 NLT)

"You are all one in Christ".

That's it! I've obviously got to do a lot more thinking about this issue but, as it stands at the moment, it seems to me that the doctrine of multiculturalism cannot work. It needs to be replaced by the recognition of multi-racialism alongside a commitment to mono-culturalism.

Download free ministry resources.
give us your feedback.