Living a new 'Jesus culture'
During one Jesus Fellowship Praise-Day, a person from each of 38 nations lined up on the stage to declare "Jesus Christ is Lord" in their own language.
Each of them belonged to the Jesus Fellowship. Most live in Christian community with people from other nations.
Much of modern UK Christianity lacks truly multi-racial churches. It's not hard to find black West Indian churches, East African and West African congregations and Chinese fellowships in our larger cities. To say nothing of the many white churches, often middle-class in character!
Yet the UK is multi-racial! We must show society that the church of Jesus removes "dividing walls of hostility" between "tribes and tongues". [Eph 2:14] The church must be a living demonstration of the harmony of races provided by Jesus.
The love of Jesus
Jesus was not hide-bound by racial prejudice. He spoke to a Samaritan woman even though Jews and Samaritans had been separated by 700 years of racial hatred. "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a Samaritan?" was her shocked response to His request for a drink. [John 4:9] Jesus "marvelled" at the response of a Roman officer who represented the occupying power: "not even in Israel have I found such faith". [Matt 8:10]
He commended the Canaanite woman: "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." [Matt 15:28]
A black African, Simon of Cyrene, was chosen to help Jesus carry His cross. [Matt 27:32] The love of Jesus transcends social and racial barriers.
The new "mixed" community
On the Day of Pentecost, when the power of the Holy Spirit poured down with such revolutionary anointing, there were in Jerusalem "devout men from every nation under heaven". [Acts 2:5] They were amazed when they heard their own languages being miraculously spoken by the Spirit-filled disciples. [Acts 2:6,7] The power of these new tongues convicted and challenged many. The supernatural life of God drew people together into a harmonious "Body", the Church-community of Jesus Christ. [Acts 4:32]
Not a God of prejudice
New birth and baptism bring into being a "new creation" where the old cultural differences are abolished. All are equally sons of God through faith, irrespective of race, class and background. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus". [Gal 3:27,28]
God is not a God of prejudice. There is no room in His kingdom for intolerance. James spoke strongly against a church with partiality, favouring the rich. The same principle applies to race: "... have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?" [James 2:1,4] Such discrimination is sin as it breaks the "royal law" of loving one's brother as oneself. [James 2:8,9] True brotherhood in Jesus means no cultural and racial divisions! We are a kingdom culture, a kingdom race!
In the Jesus Fellowship we are seeking to forge a fellowship free from prejudice. We have had to ask forgiveness for European superiority and ask God to change deep-seated attitudes of rejection towards other races and peoples.
We often live with brothers and sisters from a variety of racial backgrounds. Differences of climate, food, dress and customs all create opportunities for us to show the love that "is patient and kind ... is not arrogant ... does not insist on its own way ... bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." [1 Cor 13:4-7] The compassionate love of the Cross, often gained painfully and slowly through mistakes and misunderstandings, breaks through natural barriers.
Both black and white culture are part of the old fallen creation with its divisions and hostility. God provides a better "Jesus culture" of equality, brotherly love and freedom. God has joined us as "one new man" to express the oneness of His new humanity on earth. [Eph 2:15]
God enriches us through the range of races and nationalities. His new 'family' is made up of "every tribe and tongue and people and nation". [Rev 5:9] This flowing together of the Spirit's life between brothers and sisters of all races is a foretaste of heaven on earth!
It is the Holy Spirit who brings the new nature and baptises us into "the one Body", the Church. He also buries our old nature into Christ's death. [Eph 2:16] It is as we use the strength of our "new nature", that we create the multi-racial church. We target people of racial backgrounds different from ourselves. The old nature makes old nature friends, the new nature makes new nature friends. The old nature maintains racial prejudice. The new nature cannot! [Rom 6:4] It creates brotherhood -- the brotherhood of the love of God!