Aotearoa New Zealand has always been a diverse place. Even between different iwi and hapū, there are cultural variations.
People from all over the world now live in New Zealand. In 2013 there were more than 200 different ethnic groups across the country – and many of our communities are increasingly ethnically diverse. So what?
One of the gifts of the Body of Christ is its diversity. We are made to be in Christian community with those who are different from us. Where we resist living in diverse Christian community, we cut ourselves off from the richness and gift offered by other parts of the body – and deny the work of the Spirit. We cannot grow into the fullness of Christ if part of the body is missing!
God’s mission is from everywhere, to everywhere. If we are to make disciples of all nations, then we must be prepared to engage with others who are different from us in our own neighbourhoods (without losing our passion for overseas mission).
The Church is a witness to the rest of the world of the unity, love and fellowship that is to be found in Christ. A community that transcends all social constructs is Good News to a world so often divided by ethnicity and culture.
Our desire for intercultural community isn’t simply for the sake of it, but because we recognise that in God’s Kingdom we need to embrace and be embraced by the ‘other.’ In the same way that ‘iron sharpens iron,’ Spirit-led intercultural community draws out the best in each other to form a Christ-centred congregation.