Recently, after a discussion with friends, I asked the following question on Facebook: “Which is the bigger divider – race or culture?” Some of the most erudite responders said that in the United States race is by far the bigger divider. Others contended for economic disparity, rather than either race or culture. Most said cultural preference was the biggest divider.
This, of course, is a complex discussion that doesn’t divide right down the middle. However, when we put on our Biblical worldview lenses, the answer becomes quite clear. We realize how few of us are following Jesus when it comes to the unity He prays for us to live.
God confused the languages at the Tower of Babel, due to man’s ability to bring about all kinds of evil when unified, but in the New Testament, Jesus’ desire is that we would now be unified in Him. This presupposes that our identity is in Jesus and that we are living for Him and by His Spirit. This also presupposes that we believe there is no longer slave nor free, neither male nor female, neither Jew nor Gentile.
The biggest issues facing the New Testament Church were cultural, religious and racial. Jesus taught that Christians are to put aside all of these things for new community in Christ. Paul follows this with a radical dismantling of Jewish preferences and practices that alienated Gentiles. These practices discriminated across racial, cultural and religious lines. The biggest issue we face is not following Christ and unifying as Christ followers.
When I am in a foreign country and cannot, at times, even read the signs, it is my Christian brothers and sisters who are guiding me. When I worship in a language I don’t even understand, it is the fellowship of love and mutual pursuit that is leading me to worship in the unity of the Spirit.
Our behavior towards others should not be dependent on their color, religion, politics, or culture. Our arrogance, cloaked in morality and blinded by preference, drives us to divide over things Jesus died to expunge. Unity is how the world will know that the Father sent the Son, and unity is what Jesus longs for us to experience.
When we listen to the political pundits and clamor for our own platforms and cultural agendas using Jesus as our support, we are simply proclaiming ourselves as God, revealing how little we are striving to live like Jesus.