Why “Biblical Unity in Diversity”?

by Joe Bartemus | Feb 8, 2019 | Articles

As we approach this year’s THINK weekend, I can’t help but remember the first one. We wondered if our church would embrace the idea of a theology conference for everyone. In the years since, College Park certainly has embraced it and God has brought us some wonderful speakers.

This year’s topic of biblical unity in ethnic diversity is not new. It’s one of our Core Values at College Park, and it’s also very relevant to the political climate and cultural challenges that we face today. In light of that, here are three questions to offer perspective about THINK|19:

1. Is this topic biblical?

I have been involved in the discussion of biblical unity in diversity for several years at College Park, and it has helped me see many passages of Scripture that speak to this topic: 

  • God is perfect unity (Deut. 6:4) with wonderful diversity (Matt. 3:16-17)
  • God created us for unity with wonderful diversity (Gen. 1:26,27)
  • God is redeeming people from every people, nation, and tongue (Matt. 28:19)
  • God desires his Church to embrace diversity under the unifying wonder of the cross (1 Cor. 12:12-13; Phil. 2:1-4)
  • God calls us to love one another (1 Cor. 13)
  • In the end, God’s people will be united by the blood of the cross and will experience the beauty of the diversity that reflects God forever (Rev. 7:9)

2. Is there a biblical example of this challenge?

  • Acts 10—Peter and Cornelius. Peter had a problem with meat that had been deemed unclean and God sent him a vision to help him see a new perspective. He also had a problem with foreign non-Jews, so God sent him Cornelius. The end result? Peter proclaimed that, “God shows no partiality” and every nation who fears him is accepted! This is good news for Gentiles like me.
  • Galatians 2—Paul sees Peter discriminate against Gentiles and rebukes him by arguing that all are justified by faith in Jesus. Paul says there is “neither Jew nor Greek…all are one in Christ…and if you are Christ’s you are Abraham’s offspring” (Gal. 3:28).
  • Unity in diversity is a tough truth to trust and may require difficult conversation (as shown by Peter’s example), but it is so wonderful to see it at work!

3. Why this? Why now?

In my Christian walk, some of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had have happened as I developed relationships with fellow humans that do not look exactly like me. Some may think this is such a controversial, divisive topic that we should just leave alone. While you will probably not agree with everything that is said this weekend, or in all the books we offer (neither will I),  I believe this topic represents one of the greatest opportunities the church has. We can take the lead and point to a solution the “world” has not been able to find. The church is called to share the gospel with all nations and ethnic groups, and we are under the command of King Jesus to show what his family looks like.

We should live such that any time anybody wants to know what is going on in heaven, all they have to do is check with us. May we be that kind of kingdom church!