A Vision for America from Revelation 5:9
I am fascinated every time I go to the grocery store. Recently, I said to my wife, “I will die not having tried all these different food products.” I loved living in California because I could go to the desert, the mountains, the coastal plain, and the ocean all in one day. When I worked in financial services, I marveled at the array of financial products people could choose from. As a student of economics, I learned about a type of wealth people can take for granted. It is the wealth not in possessing, but in simply having the supply of choices.
Mixing things creates even more variety. Compare the bland food of certain cultures versus, say, Indian food. Indian food is marvelous because of its diversity of spices mixed together. It takes knowledge and experience to craft something so complex. There is something fabulous about people mixing together, too.
I was taught as a child that America was a melting pot. People came from everywhere, and this created diversity. I was taught to appreciate diversity. My parents opted for travel when I was in my youth, and this helped me see the world. It removed a number of prejudices formed from the place I grew up in. These prejudices were not unique to my hometown, but every place has presuppositions about every other place. Yet, when we mingle together, much of the stereotype is corrected.
I have lived in neighborhoods where my racial identity was the majority, where I was a minority, and where I was part of a balanced mix. I have enjoyed each of these exposures immensely, especially in retrospect. Looking forward, I want more diversity, not less.
Growing in knowledge, especially in personal relationships with other people groups enriches us. We are blessed by our connections and our increased understanding. There is so much to learn from others, who are different from us.
When my grandparents immigrated to the United States from Poland, they naturally landed in a Polish ghetto. Most immigrants gravitate to their own kind. It is safer and certainly more comfortable. Some ghettos have stuck together. I love going to Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy, Little Saigon, Little Tokyo, and the Mexican Village for food and festivals. The world has come to America, and it has made America diverse.
It is a shame when the government tries to force us to integrate. Imagine if the NBA forced racial integration. Everyone would suffer. When the government forces anything on us we resent it (see Critical Race Theory). We also find strained relationships with those we are forced to be with under twisted government designs. What is the reason for the tension? Love is never the motivation in government activity. Hospitality is a far better way to have people come into your neighborhood ghetto and feel welcome.
As a pastor, I recognize the perfectly diverse place is heaven. Consider the inhabitants of heaven from God’s Word, “Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Rev 5:9).” In God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge, He sent Christ to redeem a diverse group of people from the whole world (Jn 3:16; Acts 2:23).
Who is hostile to diversity? Well, if heaven is filled with diversity, then the devil has to be our adversary in this category, too. God wants us to be together, but the devil drives us apart. Forced integration is as foul as forced segregation. Without interaction, however, humans get suspicious. We are tempted to doubt the motives, words, and actions of others outside our camp. We have the generational sin of prejudice in our communities, too. Bad behavior by people reinforces negative stereotypes. The cycle must be broken.
The racist gunmen, who walk into a black church in Charleston or shoot white policemen in Dallas, are ignorant of God’s plan and design. Where can the world learn about God’s diverse heaven? The answer should be obvious. The church is the most natural environment for people to experience love, hospitality, and gain knowledge of Christ’s holy nation (1 Pet 2:9).
If the government falls short when forcing us to be together, then the church has also failed to allure us to be together this side of heaven. Obviously, we still have the segregation on Sunday morning. Why do churches find it so difficult to integrate racially?
Culture begins at home. We interpret the world through the lens of our home experience. We identify with our family, then our local community, and then our region, and then our nation. Ethnicity is a more powerful attraction than race. For example, if I were at a global conference, I would be more inclined to sit at a table of African, Asian or Latino Americans than at a table of white people from Poland. This would only be different if I were a missionary to Poland.
I have done mission work in Scotland, El Salvador, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, India, and Nepal. I have conversation points with people from these nations. I have lived in Michigan, Philadelphia, Dallas, Los Angeles, Scotland, and Washington state. I have conversation points with people from these locations, too.
What we need are more points of connection with people who do not look or talk like us. We need to be hospitable until people are comfortable with us…and us with them. Our love must be intentional as we reach out in the great commission, missionary endeavor. If the world is to know us by our love for one another, then we must love one another in our comfort zones.
We must find bridges to cross over to where other people are located. At the same time, those bridges must be open for others to cross over to us. The missionaries have built these bridges and are continuing to build bridges. We must be willing to go to the nations and tribes, both locally and globally. We have incredible tools to sustain personal connections through social media once we have established them in person.
The vision to introduce the reality of heaven to a lost and divided world must come from the church. It must be the mission of our churches to intentionally create and maintain relationships, and if possible, community. This would occur with those unlike us in race, ethnicity, language, socio-economic status, and every other category that divides us.
When I lived in Los Angeles, I envisioned a church with a pastoral team of every race demonstrating racial reconciliation and unity amidst diversity. The vision extended to the creation of an alluring environment aligned with Revelation 5:9. Finding racial chemistry requires a team of committed chemists, that is, pastors willing to make this the trademark of their ministries. Four pioneer pastors from Anglo, African, Asian, and Latino cultures could cut the mold for replication.
Major metropolitan areas in America have all the ingredients for a heavenly soup for the melting pot. Jesus Christ is the central point in this configuration. He is the chief of every tribal chief, but He has shown us Christian leadership is different from the world’s model. Seeing racially diverse Christian elders work together to build Christ’s church, by the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit, would draw people to see the vision of heaven. Heaven would become more of a reality for the church in the world.
In conclusion, we need the vision of heaven from Revelation 5:9 and other passages. We need to learn heaven by following God’s Word. We need committed church leaders from every race to come together to show us how to work together when diversity is committed to unity in truth. Christ Jesus is our center point, and we need our connection to be with Him, who called us out of darkness and into His light. At the cross, we must meet one another with the vision of showing the world, God’s heavenly diversity.
Let us pray for our church leaders and our churches to find their way to the cross and to the reconciliation that is ours in Christ Jesus, our Lord. May we shine during these dark days, and may others see our commitment to love one another, together, for all eternity.
David E. Norczyk
May 14, 2021