Reading: Revelation 7: 9-17
Verse Nine: There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language.
The opening verse for our passage today again paints a beautiful picture of heaven. It is the heaven that each who call on the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will inherit. Verse 9 reads, “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language”. It is a vast crowd, one so large that it cannot be counted. It is a very diverse crowd, just as God desires. This gathering that represents wonderful diversity and open inclusion draws people from all walks of life and from all corners of the globe. It is the result of the Great Commission.
If this is what heaven will be and look like, is this what our churches and our circle of friends should be and look like? Absolutely. Most churches think they are welcoming and open and, indeed, most are. Most people think of themselves as caring and loving and friendly people, and most of us are. But being welcoming and caring and loving and friendly doesn’t necessarily include or draw in those who are the least and the lost of our communities and our neighborhoods.
Our church is like most. There are two main tribes of people in our community, but only one tribe is represented in our church. There are rich and poor and people in between in our community, but not many who are struggling economically call our church home. These two examples are but two of the many who are missing from our body of Christ. A snapshot of worship on a Sunday morning would reveal that we are very homogeneous. Our community is not. Our question may be asked at many other churches as well: how do we become more wonderfully diverse and openly inclusive?
It begins by getting to know those in our community who are not present in our churches. We then must shift to being continually invitational with those we meet and get to know. As Christians, we must be invitational, inviting others into Jesus’ love. Then we must be willing to offer radical hospitality. It is the hospitality practiced by Jesus. It is the live modeled by Jesus. It is the love of a humble servant, willing to give of oneself for the other. It is a love that seeks to make people’s lives better – spiritually, emotionally, economically, socially,… It is a love that engages people from all walks of life and from every neighborhood in our communitied. May this be the love that is in us and is in our churches. May this be the love that flows out of each of us and out of all of our churches.