Diversity in the Gospel of Jesus Christ… Mickey Sutliff

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…

What was at first a need to broaden my understanding and create personal value for African American culture and history, I found the LORD was expanding my vision in seeing the Body of Christ in a new and broader glory. As we walked in an intentional cross-cultural church, the LORD opened my eyes and heart to how diversity within the local body and Body of Christ universal reflects the unconditional reach of the gospel and God’s purposes in salvation. Not that I did not understand or know that ‘God so loved the world…’ but how little we actually experience in our local church the reality of this truth that will be our ‘reality’ in heaven and how this reality reflects the glory of our Lord.

Through time spent in Scripture and walking out the Christian life within a cross-cultural church, I began to see a connection between the proclamation made by the ‘four living creatures & 24 Elders before the throne’ in Revelation 5:9 and the whole of redemptive history throughout the Scriptures. Revelation 5:9 reveals the worthiness and glory due to the Lamb Who Was Slain flows from His shedding His blood “for men of every tribe, every tongue, every people and every nation…”

I found the ‘nations‘ at the heart of God’s redemptive purposes from Genesis to Revelation. God’s promise & redemptive covenant with Abraham included not only blessing his descendants but also ‘…all the families of the earth’.

The Old Testament, where Israel dominates the focus of God’s blessings, the incorporation of the nations into His eternal family is interwoven throughout the Psalms & the Prophets.

  • Psalm 96 extols the glory of the Lord and His heart for the nations.
  • Jonah is focused on God’s love & compassion for a ‘nation’ not Israel and rebukes the prophet for his lack of compassion for them.
  • Isaiah 56:6-7 speaks of ‘foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, to love the name of the Lord… I will make them joyful in My house of prayer, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’.
  • Joel 2:28, quoted by Peter at Pentecost, ‘I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh’.   

As I began to engage the LORD in this dialogue about the gospel, the Church and the nations, I began to see in our diverse church family the expression of the unconditional reach and reconciliating power of the gospel. The Church should reflect the redemptive purpose as revealed in Scripture, which will be more tangible when those who gather are not all homogeneous in its make up. Diversity within the gospel reveals more fully the reach of the gospel of Jesus Christ, whether it is cultural or socioeconomic or ethnic diversity. Ideally all of these, Ephesians and James speak to these diversities specifically.

Ephesians 2 speaks to being ‘no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord… being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

This picture laid out by Paul, reminds me of Isaiah’s vision of the LORD in His temple, and the seraphim proclaimed, ‘the whole earth is full of His glory’. The Church is His temple, as described by Paul and His glory will be made manifest by the Church. The gospel is not limited to one people group or ethnicity or to those of economic blessing or poverty (James 2:1-13).

God’s people, as revealed in Scripture, reflect the breadth of humanity. Even Jesus’ own 12 disciples were from the broad spectrum of Israelites.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: