Summary: Five reasons why God wants our church to welcome all kinds of people who share a common faith in Christ with us.
(Note: This sermon was introduced with a powerpoint presentation set to the song "All Kinds of People" written by Sheryl Crow, Kevin Gilbert and Erick Pressley and performed by Susan Ashton from the "A Distant Call" CD).
Why is it that the Christian community is divided over many of the very same things our world is divided over? That’s a troubling trend, when you think about it. We can understand why certain issues tear people in our culture who don’t know God apart, but why do some of these very same issues tear apart the Christian community?
One of the more tragic examples of this came in the 1990s in the African country of Rwanda. You probably remember that intertribal warring in Rwanda led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. What isn’t widely known about that horrible event is that among the Rwandan tribes that were killing each other, 98% of the people claimed to be Christians (McClaren). You see, Rwanda was for many years held up as a success story in Christian missions, a stellar example of a place where missionaries came, presented the good news of Jesus Christ, and the vast majority of the people came to faith in Jesus. Yet here were these people who confessed loyalty to the same Lord and Master, and they were trying to exterminate each other. At one time an Anglican bishop went to Rwanda to appeal to leaders among the tribes to stop killing each other. During his meeting with them, the bishop asked the leaders of the tribes, "Which is more significant to you? The waters of your Christian baptism or the bloodlines of your tribes." Without a moment’s hesitation they said, "The bloodlines of our tribes."
The things that divide the Christian Church here in America aren’t quite so hateful, but they’re troubling nonetheless. I’ll never forget reading Christian author Phillip Yancey’s description about how the church he grew up in actually asked a black family to leave during a worship service back in the 1960s (Yancey). Yancey’s boyhood congregation was entirely orthodox from a doctrinal perspective, yet it was as racist as its neighbors.
Churches today are still divided by race, by economic status, by political party. It’s even happened in our own congregation. I know of someone who was once a member of our church who felt excluded because she and her husband held differing convictions about politics than the majority of our members. Many congregations these days are divided along generational lines. Some churches are primarily old, while others are exclusively young. Its as if many congregations have given up on ministering to people across generational lines.
This is terribly tragic.
According to the Bible, there are two things that bind all human beings together. Regardless of our skin color, our annual income, our political convictions, our marital status, or our age, there are two things that bind us together. The first thing that binds us together is the fact that all human beings are created in the image of God. Every human being is an image bearer of God, no matter what gender, income level, age, or social class. This is true of everyone.