Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Church As MultiRacial Community

By Bishop Dr Robert Solomon

I was at a combined service recently where I had the joy of giving the benediction in three languages - Mandarin, Tamil, and English. The next day I was at a Peranakan service and had the opportunity to give the benediction in Malay. This experience reiterated for me the fact that the church is a multi-lingual and multiracial community. This is not just a sociological phenomenon, for in order to understand it adequately, we must begin with a theological perspective...

The question still remains: Can people of different races be bonded deeply?

The answer lies in the gospel and what it does to our ultimate identities. The gospel of Christ redemptively brings together people with different ethnic and national loyalties and identities by uniting them in a common and ultimate identity and allegiance. When we are baptised, we are given a common identity as children of the true and triune God. We become members of one Body, the Body of Christ. It is this unity that allows for the rich diversity in the God-created world to exist in the church, without conflict and chaos.

Without this unity located and centred in the one God and Father of all, one Lord, and one Spirit, and expressed in the one hope, one faith, one baptism, and one Body (Ephesians 4:4-6), there is no hope for the rich diversity of races to be brought together into real and abiding community, and no hope for the disappearance of the enmity, hatred, violence, and prejudices that often characterise inter-ethnic relations.

God brings us together from every tribe and tongue into one family, united by an identity and allegiance that transcend our ethnic and other penultimate identities. As Paul describes in Ephesians 2, the cross of Christ then becomes our peace, filling every interstitial space between peoples, thus bringing about reconciliation and richness.

It is this truth that fires our imagination to reach beyond our comfort zones and that has led the church in mission to reach out without discrimination so that the church becomes what the world ought to be, where all races have a God-given place. The churches in Singapore have shown signs of doing this as they reach out in mission to other people groups with the love of God. This mission of God must continue to shape and transform us. The experience of the church in Singapore, though not perfect in this regard, nevertheless does show glimpses of what God has in mind. Read the entire article

1 comment:

Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...

We have one God and all of the world's languages
We have known and called Him by many names through the ages
We will always have our (unfair) share of outrages
We shall overcome them all with God-given wisdom and courage