Instant Global Communication. Roaming around the globe is done simply at the keyboard these days. I can hardly believe how a friend request or acceptance is so quickly transacted—across the ‘ponds’—and a new bond of friendship is suddenly facilitated—if the two choose cooperatively to go that way.
Even better is the fact that our imagination is stirred to all the lovely destinations we’ve never been, but to the expanses of our minds.
Then we consider the growth and decline of Christianity around the globe. The statistics are interesting. Growth in non-traditionally Christian centres; declines in major Westernised centres. As a trend, the growth of Islam on a par with the growth of Christianity over the last Century. Taken at a distance, with perspective, we get to see this is a fascinating ‘industry’ the servants of God are engaged in, with fascinating results. It’s obvious that the overseas mission field is reaping many millions for Christ; for instance, the incredible growth in China.
But, we digress.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could replicate the instantaneousness of global internet communication—particularly with regard to cultural diversity—in our physical church communities today? A sort of cross pollination would occur; few new converts, but more spread of inter-national love!
Not that church necessarily needs instantaneousness in the sense of the internet, but to see many different peoples—language barriers catered for—all loving one another under the banner of Christ; that would be something to behold—certainly the imagery of later Revelation gives us some idea of how it will come about.
Facebook sure changes things but there’s no body fellowship or body ministry with it. It’s so ‘2D!’ It propounds the need for ‘church.’
What is ‘Church’ if not Body Fellowship/Body Ministry?
We need to get actually into the armpits of another person of cultural difference to know what Jesus truly meant about preaching the gospel (not simply via the spoken word, but in love action too) to all nations. Not that that’s the only qualifier—I, for one, know that the foreign mission field is not at all my thing.
Still, do we feel as comfortable with people of ‘ethnic’ origin? Some do, some don’t. But we should all grapple with the weakness as it presents—in God we can do all things bounded for love.
Church is first and foremost the meeting of God’s people to give praise and thanks to God—together. It’s the construct we have for worship—and it’s in freedom we do this. Cultural inclusivity could only augment this freedom as the Holy Spirit warms us from within in our unconditional acceptance of the person next to us—whether they’re African, Indian, Polish or Indonesian.
A Spiritual Outcome – Beyond the Limits of Individual Cultural Scapes
We’ve all felt this engorging of the senses of wellbeing—the good deed done; a smile even—for someone of different cultural origin. It’s like we’re united under the umbrella of a global earth and not just simply our own culture, which happens more or less as a default. This feel-good experience is impelled of God, his Spirit affirming.
As a friend put it, we need to look inwardly to understand our own openness (or lack thereof) to others from different lands, to the end, perhaps, of celebrating our unity under God more globally, more freely—beyond the constraints of cultural difference.
We must push past our narrow field of spiritual vision.
We need to break clear of our comfort zones and trust God to take us into a realm beyond our current ‘comfortable’ understanding.
I wonder where God’s taking us.
It’s Facebook and instant global communication now; what then in ten or twenty years? How much more will our geographical borders be broken down? What more inclusivity is God designing even now? And are we ready?
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.