By Ella Corey
In Matt Chandler’s book, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain, he covers the entire book of Philippians (Paul’s letter to the Philippian church). He calls out those who go to a church with only those alike them. He criticizes those who surround themselves with those who look and act like us. I’m definitely guilty of this. If you look at my group of friends, I surround myself with people who are like me. We have more in common, and more to talk about. It’s natural for all of us.
The modern church also does this all the time. There are a total of 41,000 Christian denominations in the world (according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary). Why hang around a Catholic if you’re Evangelical? Or go to a church that is predominately a different ethnicity from yours?
Paul and the Philippian church completely opposed this kind of separation. In fact, the Philippian church was built on diversity. It consisted of an extremely wealthy woman, a jailer, and a slave girl who was previously demon possessed.
Of all the lessons we can take from the early church, I believe this is the most important. We say we love others, but have we really reconciled all of our hostilities? Don’t we still turn and stare when someone who is dressed differently than us walks into church? Or quietly judge another believer with a more dramatic worship style?
Chandler addresses this with a bold and very convicting statement.
“The gospel cannot be stopped by the socioeconomic, racial, or religious walls we fallen humans build up… the gospel defies race, defies class, defies status, and even defies aptitude.” –Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
Sure, it’s unnatural to flock to those unlike you. But Jesus died so we could reconcile all hostility and be ONE body. We have the most important bond in common: we are all servants of the Lord of the Universe. In Ephesians 2:13-15, Paul makes it clear how we are supposed to live.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
With this, I encourage you to realize the beauty in diversity, rather than using social differences as a barrier. Heal and mend any negativity you feel toward another group and appreciate the church the way Christ intended it to be.