I spent lunch today, listening to Pete Menjares and Shelly Cunningham read their Centennial Conversation paper, "Intentional diversity." The paper, which is as yet unpublished, unpacks one of Biola's commitments:
“To create an environment in which all believers, regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, age, economic status, or physical ability, can pursue knowledge and personal development as they strive to become all God intends them to be.”
As I listened to the paper and to the discussion that followed, I was struck by two ideas: the need for confession and the eschatological goal. What follows is a wee bit of written preaching, articulating what I stumblingly attempted to say in the Q&A.


There is a fire that must fuel our practice of diversity. It is larger than the burning flames of experience. It is grander than the grandest human dream. It is deeper than the deepest hurt. It is more important than the clearest statement of commitment.

This fire is a line of theological thought that runs from the stricken-to-the-heart confession of Isaiah in chapter six of his prophecy to the glorious description of the mixed multitude surrounding the throne in Revelation 7.

The beginning is a clear, desperate confession of who we are: we are messed up persons who belong to messed up peoples who are all part of a messed up humanity. It is a confession that admits our own tendency to judge others through the filter of our own experience and assumptions. It is a confession that admits the ease with which we forgive ourselves and the difficulty with which we forgive others. It is a confession that admits too frequent dedication to our own comfort and opinions and our too infrequent attention to the needs and voices of others.

The end is a clear, bold confession of who we are in Christ: we are one people of God who are also many peoples, gathering around the one God and worshiping him alone. We are a people who will one day finally, deeply realize that in Christ both unity and diversity stand in bold, beautiful relief. We are a people whose worship is a bright, swirling of sound and color, blending in the eternal worship of God.

The beginning and the end are not the problem. The in between is the problem. The path--the practice of diversity in unity here and now, with all our baggage and nearly hard-wired filters--is faint and difficult and painful and dangerous. Yet, the path must be taken; the journey must be traveled. We have no choice, for God's glory compels us, from behind and before. His glory knocks us to the ground in desperate confession. His glory lifts us to our feet in beautiful, swirling worship.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen." Revelation 7:9-12
The end and the beginning, the worship and the confession, are beyond our choosing; the only proper response is obedience. The path, however, is of our choosing. Let us choose a path, always holding in our hearts both the beginning and the end. This we must do.


See CC License

“Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

No comments:

Post a Comment