Make Disciples Out of Everybody, Without Limits
When I was a kid, we sang a sweet song that went Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world. Years later, I saw a different take on that song designed to point out our tendency to be ethnocentric. They edited the words to White and white and white and white, they are precious in His sight… And the point was proven. Sometimes, even passively or subconsciously, we hug the gospel to ourselves and never venture beyond the comfort zone of other people who look like us to share the good news.
Jesus had a different idea. When Jesus told His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations,” He wasn’t referring to geo-politically defined areas, like Russia or China. Rather He commissioned His church to go make disciples out of every ethnos, the Greek word from which we get the English word “ethnicity.” His command was to go to every people group on the planet and invite them to follow Jesus and include them as fully participating members of God’s family.
If you believe your own ethnic group is the best, or is in some way superior to others… or if you simply believe your ethnic group is somehow more deserving of the gospel than any other group, you have completely missed the point of the redemptive narrative of the Bible. God is actively gathering to Himself a people from every tribe, every tongue, and every ethnic group on the planet. And our work isn’t complete until we’ve made disciples of all of them.
One of the most frustrating aspects of ministry to me is figuring out how to crush ethnic and cultural barriers to bring people together from different backgrounds. I ache when I see a sea of white before me when I preach, especially since I live in a community with large populations of Hispanics and Asian-Americans. Heaven will be marvelously multi-colored and ethnically diverse, and I want my local church to reflect the diversity of its neighborhood.
That will only happen when 1.) we pray for it, 2.) we work for it by befriending people of every ethnicity, and 3.) we celebrate that kind of diversity on Sunday.