Pentecost Sunday is an incredible affirmation of God’s desire for diversity. Early in the books of Acts Jesus had just been raised from the dead and ascended into Heaven. God wanted all of the world to know about his son. And in Acts chapter 2 we are told that staying in Jerusalem at that time there were Jews from every nation under Heaven. But the problem was that they all had different heart languages. God needed to do a miracle. And he had a choice. He could either allow everyone to speak Greek or Hebrew or he could allow his disciples to speak the languages of the nation. The prior would establish a unified and assimilated language for his church right from the very beginning. And the latter would affirm the unique cultures and languages of everyone who heard the message and give them all equal ownership of this Gospel.
So it is very telling that God chose the latter and allowed his disciples to speak the languages of the nations.
Language is one of the best vehicles for passing on and perpetuating culture. If you want to minimize diversity and create a dominant assimilated culture, you begin by destroying the different languages. This was the thinking behind the boarding schools that the US government established for Native Americans. So if God had chosen the prior, it would have established a unified church language and eventually resulted in an assimilated and homogenized church culture. For This definitely would have been simpler, cleaner and minimized any future racial conflict.
But I praise God that on Pentecost Sunday he chose to affirm the diversity of cultures, languages and people and allowed his disciples to speak the languages of the nations. I praise God that he does not desire a homogenized body. But instead wants his church to reflect the diversity of his character and his creation. I praise God that he gives us a vision of heaven that is not a melting pot where everything gets blended together, but rather a mosaic where every part is unique, different and necessary.
It is my prayer that on Pentecost we will embrace God’s desire for his church and celebrate the discomfort that comes from our diversity