Morning Musings: Revelation 7:9-10

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

This is really an incredible picture, and a challenging one for the modern church.  John hears the sound of the famed 144,000, but when he turns he sees a great multitude of people from every nation, tribe, people, and language gathered before the throne of God and giving Him praise.  What John sees here is a picture of the church universal gathered for worship.

And what does the church look like?  It is multi-colored, multi-traditional, multi-cultural, and multi-lingual.  I wonder: How many of our churches look like that today?  While there are certainly some which are intentional about making this their goal, most don’t.  Most are all a single color, a single language, a single culture, a single tradition.

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Many communities are pretty homogenous and so it only makes sense that the churches ministering to them will be reflective of their communities.  But, many communities are incredibly diverse and yet the churches that minister to them are not.  What’s more, there are not a few churches out there who are openly resistant to becoming multicultural because they don’t want to be.

And the truth is that being multicultural as a church can be really difficult.  Taking different traditions and customs and worship preferences and combining them in a single body requires a lot of effort.  It requires a lot of humility and a willingness to give up my comforts and norms for the sake of someone else.  It requires us to love one another as Jesus loved us.  When you add multiple different languages into the mix things become even more complicated.  And this is before you factor in the mess that sin makes of this whole process!

But, the reality is that learning how to do this now is just active preparation for what the church will be like in the final kingdom of God and thereafter for all of eternity.  There is no reason to think that in Heaven everyone will speak the same language.  Perhaps by a gift of God we will be able to understand each other anyway, or better yet, we can use the time we’ll have (a whole eternity of it) to learn a world of languages, but either way, we can look forward to a beautifully multi-cultural kingdom when heaven comes down to earth.  Why not start getting ready now?

9 thoughts on “Morning Musings: Revelation 7:9-10

  1. Ronald E. Keener

    Our pastor on Sunday referenced how God intends for the church to be multicultural and how good it would be for the congregation to have color of many hues as we gather for worship–even in this farming community of mostly white people with some Hispanics. True, making that happen is hard work over some years, but there are good books available on churches that have worked at encouraging a multicultural, “colorful” looking congregation. (One key I have heard is to model such intentions by putting people of color on the platform, in the praise team, and maybe also as speakers. Until you do that, you are not serious about your intentions.) I have written our pastor to encourage a fall Wednesday night series of a six-week study of one of those books as a first step.

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    • pastorjwaits

      Indeed, until the church leadership is multicultural, the church itself will not move in that direction with anything resembling intentionality. Being willing to be led by someone who doesn’t look (or talk) like you is a big hurdle for many in churches to clear. Once that is done, being willing to worship, learn, and serve with someone different is easier. How interesting that this (written months ago) ran the same week as your pastor’s sermon.

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  2. Thomas Meadors

    I would love to see our church more multicultured. The old saying is the most segregated places in America today are our churches each Sunday. What a shame. I’ve always wondered how much hatred in our nation could be eased if more of us shared the same pews each Sunday.

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    • pastorjwaits

      Hatred (which as an emotion isn’t necessarily bad, but which has culturally become a catchall word for sinful attitudes like bigotry, prejudice, and racism) is often an effect of sin and so it would probably just manifest itself in other ways, but if the church as a whole and not just a few key leaders could take a much more active and visible role in our culture to advance racial reconciliation that would be a very good thing. Diversity in a church often starts at the level of leadership. The tough question to address first is this: How can our leadership become more diverse? As I said before, if you will be led by someone who isn’t like you, worshiping next to someone different becomes much easier.

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      • Thomas Meadors

        Tough one…our last deacon election finally got some younger guys elected. Before then you pretty much knew each year who would be new deacons. I would love to see a bigger Hispanic presence in our church.

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      • pastorjwaits

        Young is fine, but passionate and committed leaders and followers of Jesus is best. That’s what we have. A bigger Hispanic presence would be a good excuse for your pastor to learn Spanish!

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      • pastorjwaits

        Young is fine, but passion and committed leaders and followers of Jesus is best and we have that. A bigger Hispanic presence would be a great excuse for your pastor to learn Spanish.

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    • pastorjwaits

      I agree! Sin makes a mess of things over and over again. It divides and dis-unifies. Only at the cross are all things made level so we can be united regardless of our starting point. Only by the resurrection are all distinctions that normally divide redeemed such that we can be together. Thanks for your thoughts, Wenda!

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