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5 September 2023

In this church we are all foreigners

No first or second class members in the Body of Christ.

Harvey Kwiyani writes inspiring and stimulating blogs, which you can all read at his website.

We want to bring one to your attention. The title is: ‘There is no other host but God’. There is no host other than God alone. In the Bible we read (in 1 Cor. 12:21) that no member of the Body of Christ can say to another member, “I don’t need you.” Harvey states: “I am convinced that the gospel comes to us with a multicultural necessity. The vitality of the worldwide Body of Christ depends on the mutual exchange between its parts (Eph. 4). All parts must receive from other parts. All parts must give something to other parts. No part is self-sufficient.”

In short, there are no first-class or second-class members in the Body of Christ. But how does this work in practice? One way to think about this is that God has drawn us together in Christ to the heavenly table, where God alone is host and we are all guests. The table metaphor allows us to reflect on the fact that we all bring and share our authentic cultural food in God’s presence. To taste the gifts of another part of the Body—from brothers and sisters from another part of the world—just look around the table. This works well when we successfully curb the urge to dominate and assimilate each other in our ways, but instead embrace diversity for what it is: a gift from God.

Given the global dynamics of our segregated existence, the challenge is whether we can really all be guests at God’s table. This requires a great deal of self-emptying for all of us, a letting go of our power and rights (Phil. 2). It is not necessary for those on the margins to parrot what the powerful and influential among us say and do in order to be accepted.

An older and wiser friend of mine, a white American man, led a multicultural congregation that was a safe haven for asylum seekers in St Paul, Minnesota. When I visited him, he told me, “In this church we are all foreigners.” The key to his theological conviction was that Christ decentralizes us all so that He can be our only Center.

Read other blogs on Harvey Kwiyani’s website