Differences are in the news again at the moment and will increasingly be so as the Election approaches. We’ve had the news about the Chelsea ‘fans’ forcing a black person off a train with racist chants and threatening behaviour. We’ve had the troubles around the so called ‘Islamic State’ and their treatment of those who are Westerners or of another religion, and we’ve had plenty of discussion around immigration with the rise of UKIP and euro-scepticism in general.
None of this has directly affected me, although from what I understand of my family history, my family were Huguenots who fled from religious persecution on the continent at some point in the past. It is easy for me to pronounce judgement on others as I have not had to tolerate it, not have I noticeably been threatened by changes caused by others. One who has, however, was Nelson Mandela, locked up because of his resistance to apartheid. It would have been all too easy for him to have emerged from prison with the desire to exact revenge on those whites who treated him and his fellow blacks the way they did. It would have been easy for him to desire to bring about a black South Africa as a response to the white dominated South Africa that there had been before. The astonishing thing was that he did not. With the likes of Desmond Tutu he talked instead of reconciliation and not a black or white nation, but a rainbow nation.
He was not the first. The Bible talks of God’s many coloured or varied grace (1 Peter 4:10, ‘Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms’ – the original Greek has the sense of multi-coloured grace), grace that is sufficient and open to all no matter what their background or race. It is only after the Fall and the Tower of Babel that we became a divided people, and the work of Christ is to bring reconciliation, to unite in himself all people with God. There are some wonderful glimpses of this future in Revelation where multitudes from all nations gather to worship as one. This picture of a united and yet different family or community is one I’m passionate about, and one I am really excited to see developing at Wormley with our increasingly multicultural, multigenerational, multibackground church. This is something we have to work on, it doesn’t come easily to us, but it is worth it, because this is how we were made to be. It is only in our unity that we gain a fuller understanding of God who himself is a community of different persons, united in will and relationship. Only together can we truly represent him and the Kingdom to our divided world!