Diversity is not merely a value of a democratic society. In other words, it’s not a “political” ideology. We don’t have to live in the American 50s/ 60s or South African apartheid to understand that we are a nation broken by hatred, superiority and a festering racism. These aren’t new phenomena and unfortunately come well-embedded in our sin nature. But, Jesus’ cross death saves us from that, too, and reconciles us to the Father. Consequently, it became a model of what we can experience in real life.
As the book of Acts unfolds, the Church becomes more colorful. The “thread” of ethnicity starts out as (Jewish) homogenous, but by the time you get to the end of Acts, it is multi-ethnic. God’s plan all along is to save from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9).
A church honestly reading the Scriptures sees this and then aligns her values, priorities and strategies to become it. Sometimes, churches try too hard or force it, but sadly, more often than not, they haven’t tried hard enough. If we were a church in rural Wisconsin, it might be harder to achieve diversity because the towns themselves are predominantly homogenous. However, we live in in a big city where the nations tend to migrate. But in our city of 77 distinct neighborhoods, there’s still noticeable racial division. It’s what Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The most divided hour in our nation’s week is Sunday at 11am.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. Unity, opportunity, liberty and justice “for all” weren’t just MLK’s dream. He had the courage to speak up and labor for it. It’s been God’s idea all along.
While it’s not untrue that Chicago’s northside is predominantly white, it’s incomplete. So long as we live in a global city, we should be open as a church to reflecting the diversity of our city. As we intensely focus on our parish neighborhood, we ought labor hard to be a multi-racial and multiethnic church. Let’s not to be mesmerized, however, by diversity as a romantic ideal, but instead, be willing to repent of our classicism, racism, apathy and ignorance working hard to disciple all peoples into mature Christ-followers.