The truth is that my life after Christ has been more segregated than my life before Christ. I was born in the inner-city of Chicago. My friends around me at the time were all ethnically diverse. I didn’t know any different. My family was forced out of our neighborhood and we went to live in an area of the city that was mostly white. In my childlikeness, I felt less safe in the new neighborhood than in my old one.
I want to get back to that childlikeness. I grew up interacting with all different types of people. When I became a Christian, something changed and I’ve found myself in mostly Caucasian churches, although I have ministered in ethnically diverse churches. I don’t understand how I got here.
I want more. I don’t want our differences to interfere with our unity. Can we have both?
Read Revelation 7:9-17. Every human heart needs to wrestle with this vision. What does it mean to be different yet be unified?
Can we learn more about one another’s nations, tribes, people groups, and languages now before we get to heaven? We need to notice skin color, accent, and one another’s unique features and celebrate them. It seems that heaven acknowledges these uniqueness. What would it take for us to celebrate and be curious about them?
In the midst of our differences, can we still bond around our similarities? In heaven, we are unified by our similar clothing, the waving of palm branches, and our identification with Christ in worship and redemption. We may need to save the wearing of white robes for heaven; in my present form, white is not my best color. At the same time, what would it look like for a diverse group of people to praise God in a common way and agree that salvation belongs to Jesus? What would it look like for us to come together today in our diversity and in this unifying praise?
I think the more that I want is more heaven on earth. I want diverse unity.
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Dr. Jeanine Parolini, PhD, MBA, MA