The great American Seal carries an interesting phrase that is possibly more true today than ever before: “E. Pluribus Unum,” which is Latin for “out of many, one.” In the early days of our country Pierre Eugene du Simitiere suggested it, and it stuck. Our country was the definition of diversity. Little did they know that this would soon be even more true. Countless people from all over the world would migrate to this great nation. Statistically speaking, most of us originate from another part of the world. If we were to trace our roots back a few generations, we would probably find our ancestors migrated from a land other than the grand ol’ USA. Now a few generations later, we are one nation, still becoming one people group.
There is a fear in all this transition. The “one” we are becoming may eventually no longer be our personal definition of what “one” should look like. As cultures collide what will thrive?
Our global economy and modern technology has made the world exponentially smaller. It’s exciting and a bit scary. This fear of losing identity has caused great resistance to people who are ethnically or even socioeconomically different. In cities you see people grouped together, like little China, or little Italy. Even here in Indianapolis there are sections of town that are predominantly made up of people with the same ethnicity.
Did you know this is true in churches too? Different can be intimidating.
We stand at the brink of powerful cultural transitions. We can’t help that the global economy and technology have produced a very small world. In the collision of societies we need to wrestle through what is truly dogma and what is just tradition even in the church. Is Christianity an organ, a piano, hymnals, or a suit and tie? It sure can be, and I’m okay with that. I own suits. What I am asking is, does it have to be these only? What are the essentials that cross cultural divides? I believe the foundation of Christianity isn’t tied into the aesthetics that so many people worship. It is the objective truth that cultures should build on.
1 Corinthians 9:22b
“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”
Paul is clear in all of 1 Corinthians 9 that there is dogma, but there is also cultural freedom. Now more than ever we need people to hold on to the Bible tightly in one hand and culture loosely in the other.