by Peter Swann
As John conveys his glorious narrative of the scenes in the book of Revelation, one cannot help but be struck by the picture unfolding in chapter seven. It reads:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10, ESV)
It’s the fulfillment of what was promised so long ago. Jesus cannot come back until all peoples hear the gospel (Matthew 24:14), and all of those peoples are then together in the greatest time of corporate worship ever.
It’s every tribe represented. It’s your tribe, my tribe, and every other tribe. It’s all the tribes coming together under their Creator. It is the greatest worship scene ever playing out through unity in diversity.
If our goal is to bring heaven to earth, inviting the divine to invade the ordinary, then diversity is not to be tangential but central. We as believers are called to embrace and encourage diversity, not simply go with it. It’s a gift. It’s special. It’s a piece of heaven on earth.
Unity in diversity is, then, the design of God. It’s about Revelation 7 playing out in our world today.
Secular society is increasingly reflecting it. In Houston, the city I love, 75% of the population under thirty years old is African American or Latino. It’s so awesome. It’s beautiful diversity, a glimpse of that amazing worship scene… if the people will but worship.
God has granted diversity to us. It’s all around us to celebrate, to cherish, and to enjoy. And where there is unity in that diversity, we become stronger than ever, better than ever, and more beautiful than ever. Because where we best reflect unity in diversity, we best reflect the great Creator of diversity.
Thirty years from now, the demographic of our city will have shifted much more. It will look ever more like heaven, if the people will but worship. So let’s get out there, share the gospel, and unite the diversity for His glory… bringing heaven to earth for the praise of our great King.