God has designed us to be together – it’s in our identities, in the very fabric of who we are. We know that God Himself is Three-in-One, and in every book of His Word, there is the wonderful whisper of community.
David wrote that unity is like precious anointing oil (Ps 133:1-2), Ruth journeyed with Naomi after she declared a covenant with her (Ruth 1:16) and the early church was characterised by togetherness (Acts 4:32a).
God’s heart is for us to walk together. I’ve had the privilege of being married to Carl for 8 years and being an interracial couple has shaped me in ways more beautiful than I could have imagined. I’m so grateful that I said “Yes!” to one of the biggest adventures of my life. This invitation to partner with Him in reflecting unity is extended to each believer. You may not be in an interracial marriage, but you will ALWAYS be called to love people who don’t look like you, think like you, or act like you. You see, the challenge of unity lies in that it’s BEST DEMONSTRATED through DIFFERENCE.
Ruth was a Moabitess and Naomi was a Jewish widow, and the early church had to work out how to be practical about their togetherness when a dispute arose between widows from two very different cultural groups (Acts 6:1-7). The glory of a triune God is shown when we lay our differences aside and genuinely PREFER one another. It’s the love that the Father has poured into our hearts that joins us, above the things that may divide us.
Like all brides, I had to navigate the newness of marriage. One of many firsts was relating to my in-laws. We laugh at how I dreaded visiting Carl around mealtime when we were dating, because the biggest plates of food were dished up for me – and I finished them because I didn’t want to live up to any stereotypes. I also smile as I remember one person saying that Carl would have to cook and clean for himself – another misconception. However, it’s true that when you are called to something, He prepares the way. It may not be without its challenges, but you can walk the path with certainty and peace. I can honestly say I’ve married into the most wonderful family – they have loved me and treated me not as a daughter-in-law, but as a daughter. I am thankful.
Let’s be encouraged that it’s HOW WE RESPOND to the differences between us that determines the authenticity of our love for each other. The overflow of this is an authenticity in our churches. The world is watching to see the love of God demonstrated – and when the body of Christ (with its flaws, diverse personalities, colours and preferences) is submitted to and immersed in the love of the Father, it will show them what real love looks like. Can I say we are not just talking just about the ideal of a rainbow nation? Our commitment to unity with others needs to go beyond the idea of a “nice, friendly church.”
Some of the lessons this journey has taught me:
Learn to listen when others speak and hold your tongue.
Discussions around differences, particularly race and culture, will be uncomfortable until we learn to stop defending ourselves and really empathise with others. Genuinely choose others above yourself. It can be messy and awkward at times, but it’s necessary for the church to have these conversations, and when our hearts are to honour Him, it’s filled with His glory.
Allow the Spirit to reveal prejudice in your heart.
The enemy does all He can to fill our minds with subtle lies, even when we aren’t aware of it. For example, be aware of the language you use to speak about certain groups. Something as simple as “they’, “them” or “those people” will serve to alienate rather than unite. Be accountable to your leaders if there is an area in which you’re struggling.
Walk the journey He has called you to with passion, conviction and confidence.
Enjoy the precious relationships He has given you and laugh as you learn new things about others!
A puzzle’s beauty can only be seen when its individual pieces are placed together. We can only understand the true beauty of our lives in the significance of others – you are a part of God’s glorious picture.
We are better together!
Women of Reverence welcomes Rochel Nkosi as a guest blogger.
I am privileged to be a wife to Carl and mother to Kairo and Kadimah. I was a high school English educator before becoming a stay-at-home-mom and momtrepreneur of a small business.
I serve on the eldership team of Front Line People Church in Brakpan, alongside my husband. I am also involved in leading worship and kids' ministry. I am passionate about multiculturalism, languages and baking. My hope is Jesus - to know Him and make Him known.