This was originally written for LRBC on October 1 2017.
I’ve been reading more of the ‘Humanist Manifestos‘ that I mentioned last time I wrote. Another theme in these writings is the goal of building a united ‘world community’, in which all of humanity sets aside differences and works together for the betterment of all. Given the violent and selfish history of humanity and the suffering and struggles many face, this is indeed a noble task. The question that surfaces in my mind though is this: what holds it together? Given the vast differences between peoples, cultures and classes, I would wonder what compelling force is available to collect and harness such diverse, centrifugal forces and prevent them from either flying apart or exploiting weaker members. For whatever success is gained in this we can all be grateful, but I am aware of a force that is already at work at building this united world – the gospel.
The NT makes much of the unification in diversity that Jesus brings. The book of Revelation aims to give Christians a vision of the world and to understand it on different terms. Chapter 7 gives us a picture of a worldwide community which has a centre that is not hollow but is the Lord Jesus as the common saviour and lord. In verses 1-8 John hears of this community being numbered, in which everyone is counted like in a census. Each of God’s people – every single one of them – is known and loved and kept by him, and all belong to a specific identity. But on the other hand, when John looks to see this there is a people too vast to be numbered, coming from every facet of the diverse groups of mankind (7:9-17).
This is an alternative vision for a world community – immensely diverse, but held together by the unifying force of love and loyalty to Jesus. The duty for Christians in this is to work toward this vision being realised in our own circles first – to enjoy fellowship with those we normally would not, and to get past the things that would hinder that.