In the first You are (not) here post, I wrote about some character traits to seek in churches – traits that imply Jesus is the head of the church and that his personality is present by the work of the Holy Spirit in the people.
Today I want to bring up another, which is diversity. One sign that Jesus is present in the power of the Holy Spirit is that a congregation isn’t easy to describe ethnically or socially. As the Apostle Paul wrote,
Race, culture, socioeconomic status, former religious orientation all become secondary to baptism into Christ and new life in the Spirit.
It is easier to build a church around similarities and affinities and, frankly, most churches (even very healthy ones) won’t be able to avoid this. People live among people like themselves. That’s the nature of nations and even neighborhoods. But to find a church where such lines are blurred, bent or broken is a great blessing.
We can even take part in the blurring, bending and busting. Thanksgiving is an opportunity – just look at what Jesus had to say about guest lists:
He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14 ESV)
May our Thanksgiving recipes come out perfect, and our guest lists turn out messy. (That sounds like people gathered around the altar, doesn’t it? A messy bunch gathered to feast on perfection.)
I should mention that this year I’m the messy guest at a friend’s gracious table. It is a blessing to be invited, welcomed and served this year. Long story for another time.