Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.Acts 13:1-3
This text is often used to show the racial diversity in the early church, it is used to support a sort of church racial diversity standard that existed in the church. And with our theological lenses duly rose tinted by our surrounding racially charged post apartheid culture, we see yes, the early church was also BBEE like us! Does this make sense from a scriptural point of view?
The passage opens with a functional descriptor, of prophets and teachers … a functional diversity, a diversity of gifting and temperament … And yes its both and, there is a diversity of race and temperament, however the focus is on the functional diversity. The fact that it was Christians from various ethnicities is a non-issue really.
The peculiar South African obsession for the church (and leadership in the church) to match the cultural landscape around us needs to cease as we apprehend what it means to be a Christian first and last and middle. We are called out of the world yet too many want to call the world into the church. You do not get White Christians or Black Christians, you just get Christians.
Let us start starving the oxygen out of the church conversations that are cloaked as worthy ‘social justice’ conversations but are in reality anti-biblical and in fact just outside, worldly, cultural norms invading the church with secular, human, worldly ideologies.
Jesus chose 12 disciples all from one race. He had women followers too. Jesus was without precedent and introduced the cosmos to the Godhead’s grand and total fix on what went down in Eden. He is the Benchmark. The disciples had diversity but it was a diversity of temperament, a spiritual diversity, an utterly inward diversity. A sort of new covenant spiritual version of the 12 tribes of Israel – one nation yet 12 distinct tribal identities within that nation. The disciples were racially homogeneous but temperamentally very diverse. From extrovert Peter … to introverted Matthias.
Our businesses and churches will be more balanced and functional if we looked for temperamental diversity and stop hitting our heads trying to force communities or leadership to match the demographics and statistics of the culture around us. Let the Holy Spirit put the body together, not political correctness.
This is the yeast of the politicians infecting the church and we must throw that yeast out. Every year at Passover the Israelite’s had to clean house by getting rid of the Yeast of the Pharisees and the Yeast of Herod – lets do the same and cleanse the house of God of the norms of the world, every year.