We Value … Diversity
Diversity: The New Humanity and Its Implications
This post is part of a six-part series, written by a leader within the convention, on our core values. Our core values show who we are and what motivates us.
The International Baptist Convention values its diversity because it originates in God who lives in Christ. It is one of the uniquenesses that characterizes the convention, and anyone who visits any one of our churches will experience this truth. With more than 64 churches spread over more than 20 countries, the IBC truly resembles what the Apostle John saw — a wonderful apocalyptic vision of worshipers before the throne of God praising Him and acknowledging Him as the true author of their salvation (Rev. 7:9-10).
This evidence proves that the Incarnation was the incarnation of the Savior of all people in their cultural identities. Salvation, though ‘from the Jews’ (John 4:22), is therefore not Jewish. We distort this truth if we make Jesus a little more than a typical Jew, for Christ has revealed Himself to every culture by becoming like one of us and sharing our humanity. It is within this human heritage that our diversity unites us in Him.
Christ therefore challenges us to turn to Him and participate in the new humanity created in Him for which He came, died, rose, and was glorified. This paradigm shift shows how important it is to relate Christian understanding and experience to the realm of oneness in the Lord Jesus Christ. As a diverse convention our different nationalities should encourage us to work and connect well with one another within our congregations and beyond.
The vision of John showing our heavenly nationalities is a great reminder of what every person’s quota is to this great assembly of the IBC — where every tribe has its representatives here: every region, every color, every language, every kingdom, every people, every age and century. In John’s vision all nationalities meet in one great heavenly nationality, without jealousy or distrust; all are united in Him who redeemed them by His blood.
What is the implications of all this? In our diversity we have been engaged in a battle both spiritually and physically on this earth. Some IBC members can share their stories of suffering in crossing the borders to Europe. Though many of them are hard workers and well-educated immigrants who have left their countries of origin for various reasons, some countries and organizations see them as threat to be resisted rather than as redeemed persons in Christ to be accepted as members of the new humanity.
What is important is to see and relate to them the way the Lord Jesus Christ sees and relates to them. That is how we value our diversity and celebrate our new humanity in Christ. The beauty and strength of the IBC as a family of diverse nationalities in Christ is to reach out to the refugees, the marginalized, and the overlooked, both in Europe and beyond, to proclaim the good nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. This new humanity also has a moral character and is to be reflective of the Savior.
The new humanity is therefore challenged to live and become what they really are, living their new identity out. This means living as a new human being in Jesus, putting on love, holiness, meekness, patience, and all the other characteristics that are attributed to true people of God (Col.3:1-17).
As members of IBC families we all come from somewhere assembled in Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East. What matters is that our destiny is in the same place, where Christ is seated. That should encourage us to work together to build the Kingdom that is described as the “everlasting kingdom” for His glory.
by Richmond Ofori-Tawiah
Senior Pastor, Hope International Bible & Mission Church, Rotterdam, Netherlands, and former Vice President of the IBC