As Christians we have been included in the Heavenly Father’s family. His family spans racial, cultural, geographic, and economic diversity. Doctrinal and denominational lines are secondary to the foundational truth that we have been reconciled together to the Father through the sacrifice of His Son.
“[In love] He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:5-7).
The Apostle Paul goes on to say, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Eph. 2:19). He further affirmed that we have one “God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4: 6). However, God’s inclusive plan for His people is at times lost in modern Western culture. Marvin Wilson observed that “the current display of rugged individualism and private Christianity seen within the Church must give way to a greater emphasis on the corporate life of the community of faith.”1
Jesus was well aware of the communal aspects of Judaism and the inclusiveness of God as He taught His disciples to pray “our Father” (Matt. 6:9). He summarized communal aspects of the Law in the statements “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12), and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:36-40).
God’s emphasis on the relational life of His community is evidenced by the volume of teaching on how we conduct our lives together. As in any diverse family, conflicts will arise; so, we are continually reminded to love, forgive, actively serve, and prefer one another. We are also encouraged to use our personal freedom in Christ to promote what is best for the community of faith (Gal. 5:13-15).
I am thankful to be included in God’s diverse family. However, I also realize its opportunities and challenges. In the fourth chapter of Ephesians, Paul beautifully summarized our walk together as God’s diverse community. “I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).
Marvin R. Wilson, Our Father Abraham, Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 185.