‘After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…’ — Revelation 7:9
Can you picture yourself in that heavenly choir?
University is a great place to get ready for that future event — call it an extended period for choir practice if you may. More than ever, we can focus on learning and practising, so that we can become more skilled and ready for our eventual destiny.
One key part of our preparation is to get to know our fellow choir members — brothers and sisters ‘from every nation, tribe, people and language.’ University is an inherently diverse place, and so it’s a good practice ground for exercising this facet of heavenly living.
In Jesus’ own words, to welcome a fellow Christian is to welcome Jesus Himself (Matt 25:35). So, the CU should think proactively about welcoming and develop an inclusive atmosphere. Ask these questions regularly — what has been done well to welcome and include people from different backgrounds? Has someone been left out unintentionally? When planning events, ask a variety of people for their thoughts, and, where possible, experiment with new suggestions.
Only when there is a culture of welcoming can Christians from different backgrounds express themselves freely.
The Apostle Paul explicitly told Christians to ‘practice hospitality’ (Romans 12:13). It is something we are expected to do. But more than that, hospitality is vital in the Christian community as it brings individuals together, sometimes with life-changing consequences. No wonder Jesus keeps attending banquets in Luke’s Gospel (ten times I counted!). Over these dinners, He met Pharisees, tax collectors, and people from a diversity of backgrounds.
But hospitality is also a skill that requires practising.
Are you prepared for another round of practising? Maybe this time with someone you don’t know very well? This can be done very simply – such as over a cup of coffee.
A CU in the habit of practicing hospitality is more likely to be a diverse place.
How can a CU sustain their commitment for diversity? How can we not feel threatened by things that are different, or inadequate when we don’t understand?
Answer — we need to have a humble curiosity.
Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:4-5: ‘For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.’
Being finite creatures, we have not and cannot experience everything, so there is still much good out there that is beyond our current experience. We shouldn’t overly lament our limitations, but rather praise God for His boundless goodness!
So, we shouldn’t be afraid of things and people we can’t understand. In fact, we should celebrate them, as long as they are authenticated by the Word of God and the act of praying.
Take an interest in the worldwide church. The internet is your friend here. Better than that, why not phone a friend who’s from a different background to yours and learn from them?
Be curious. Be humble.
Pray for God to work in every single one of us to make the CU more diverse — and pray that we would become more confident that this is indeed God’s plan.
A diverse CU is a foretaste of heaven.
This blog was written by Enoch Cheng, who is the Pastoral Worker of Sheffield Chinese Christian Church. Before working for the Chinese church, he was involved in International Student Ministry at a number of local churches in England.
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