Randy* is a tall, intimidating mechanic from up north with a shaved head, grease under his fingernails, and a blunt Michigan accent. He and I are so different it's funny. Although I bet I'm more athletic, he mocks me for sitting at home all day in a chair and typing on a computer (which, admittedly isn't far off from the truth), and as his job is working on big machines like bulldozers and cranes and such, I imagine he could kill me with one of the special torches he's always talking about if he wanted to.
One time Randy wore a shiny short-sleeved shirt that looked liked it was made of snake skin. I ridiculed him mercilessly ("Solid Gold Dancers called, they want their shirt back" -- that kind of thing), and I didn't fear for my life. Why?
Randy and I have virtually nothing in common. He's the kind of guy I'd see in the grocery store and immediately steer clear of.
But I've seen Randy raise his hands in worship, and Randy has seen me cry (and he didn't call me a gaywad or anything!).
And these sorts of differences coming together in unity is the great compelling brilliance of the Church of Jesus Christ.
This is what Jesus' kingdom does. It reconciles.
In Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. There is no grease monkey or Mister Mom.
When I hear people balk at Bible study or group meetings because "I have nothing in common with the others" it saddens me because they've missed the one thing in common that matters -- Jesus.
Sin divides; Christ unites. We've all drunk of the same Spirit, and it is only in the Church that people of all races, cultures, backgrounds, occupations, special interests, IQ's, skill sets, nations, tongues, tribes, etc etc etc can be different parts of the same Body.
As my friend Phil says, "Dividing is natural; uniting is supernatural." These disparate parts, these disparate persons, could find no other cause worth gathering for and experiencing reconciliation in if it were not for he who has torn the veil of separation between us and God.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
-- 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
* Randy is a real person and no detail has been fudged, except for his name.
Who is the Kingdom For?