Cross-Cultural Church: The Power of Diversity

The Power of Diversity

“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…” (Rom. 12:4-6).

The Church is Designed to be Diverse:

When Paul writes about Spiritual gifts he always does it in context of the body or the church.  Just like the body is made up of different members, the parts cannot function as a body.

Paul states it this way,

And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be (I Corinthians 12:16-18).

In other words God specifically designs the church with diverse gifts.

The Role of The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit’s primary role is to be a witness of Jesus.  Jesus on several occasions states that the Holy Spirit will testify about him, he will bring remembrance of his words to his disciples, and he will witness the beginning of the church.  If the primary role of the Holy Spirit is to be a witness of Jesus, then the primary function of Spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit is to witness to Jesus.  The power of diversity is that the church is prepared to be a witness of Jesus.  The primary purpose of the fruit of the Spirit is to live like a follower of Jesus.  Without diversity there is a limited witness.  This is why a multiethnic church can have a tremendous impact for Jesus.  Multiethnic is a diverse gift from God that allows a church to reach out to all cultures. On the day of Pentecost, the first day of the church in Acts chapter two, the people heard the apostles in their own language.  What did the different people hear? They heard the one message of Jesus.  There were diverse languages for one mission and message.

Warnings about Diversity:

The first warning of diversity is when the individual diverse gift seeks attention over the mission.  One sees this in the world today.  Abortion is a result of an emphasis on the diversity of women.  Same-sex marriage is an emphasis of diversity by recognizing the homosexual community.  Diversity of religion starts emphasizing other religions.  Every religion begins to cry out for their own special holiday. When diversity is emphasized then it becomes the sole mission. A flag in South Carolina is an emphasis of a diversity of heritage. The result is a nation that is daily dividing more and more and the church is doing the same.

The second warning is diverse Spiritual gifts will become divisive. Paul is writing to a church that is divided in Corinth. He writes, “…. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other” (I Cor. 12:24-25).  People were using the Spiritual Gift of speaking in tongues as the sign above all other signs. Others were emphasizing who baptized them. When the emphasis is on diversity recognition then division will always follow.

The third warning is that diversity becomes a sign that one is not an equal member of society of the church. Paul wrote, “on the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (1 Cor. 12:22).  In today’s world diversity has the context of meaning that someone is being left out.  In the corporate world the emphasis on diversity is because the corporate world does not appreciate diversity and has deliberately under hired minorities.  The answer is to be intentional about diversifying hiring practice, but not because of a percentage, but because the person’s diversity is valuable to the company and to the global economy.  In the church, diversity is the way the Holy Spirit has powered it to reach and love people that others cannot.  Just like in Acts chapter 2 where the diverse languages cross the cultural barrier so too is the mission the diverse Spiritual gifts.  Every gift is valuable to the mission.

The fourth warning is without love it does not matter how many diverse gifts a church has it worthless.  Paul writes, “if I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1Cor. 13:1).  When discussing diversity emphasis loving one another.  Christians us their diverse gifts to love and serve people.  The Holy Spirit never draws attention to himself.  When discussions of diversity are infused with love then people only get into shouting matches without any solutions.

How to Use the Power of Holy Spirit Diverse Gifts

  • First, the church needs to embrace each other’s uniqueness and rejoice that the Holy Spirit has blessed it with diversity.
  • Second, it is all about the mission. One’s uniqueness can reach people in specific situations with the gospel.
  • Third, use one’s diversity gift for peace in the church.
  • Finally, make sure God is always glorified.