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By Gordon Abernethy in All Sorts

Within the world-wide Christian community there are many races and skin colour – Christ did not discriminate, God does not discriminate.

Mine is a church where every body’s welcome,
(I know it’s true ‘cause I got through the door.) We are a dazzling bouquet, all sorts of flowers ----
jump in the vase, ‘cause we got space for more. --------
We don’t simply tolerate each other,
- we ask and tell, we don’t just turn away,
we give our attention to each bud and blossom, let every face come grace the grand bouquet!
Some of the words from the song, “A Dazzling Bouquet”,
by American composer and writer Bret Hesla.
A song the Mornington Church choir sing, and enjoy singing.
It fits well with our “Finding Good in everyone Finding God in everyone”
“God does not show favouritism.” Rom.2:11
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you
are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal.3:28
Television, if it has done nothing else, has brought the world to our living rooms, with all its diversity especially so in the human race. But we do not need to go far from our living rooms to experience that diversity. For in Dunedin, so far from the many other countries, we can cross paths with a wide array of cultures just by walking along the main street or on a visit to the hospital, or at the sports field, at school or university, even at church.
When we see busy street scenes of London, Paris, Edinburgh or New York for instance, the diversity of skin colour, hair dress and clothing is marked. Not so long ago on a t.v. news item a reporter was asking people on the streets of Glasgow their view on home rule. He spoke to two young coloured women, perhaps from Africa, they both spoke English with a Scottish accent.
“When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself.” Leviticus 19:33
Here in New Zealand we are seeing more people of different nationalities coming to make their homes here. Apart from the odd incident these new citizens are welcomed and are becoming an accepted part of this country’s population.
Seen on television at the football cup in Russia are representatives of all races, not only as spectators, but within individual teams as they represent a country far from their ancestral home. Our New Zealand’s sports teams also have increasing numbers of incomers.
How encouraging it is to see the mix of nationalities that have come offering their help in rescuing the boys trapped underground in Thailand – what a horrible feeling with all that rock above and the rushing water around, not the old vision of hell, but a hellish place to be in.
Now just before this goes to ‘press’ the news that all are freed from their watery hell, wonderful news, a magnificent achievement. Sad at the loss of one of the rescuers, I hope he is recognised for his volunteering efforts.
Within the world-wide Christian community there are many races and skin colour – Christ did not discriminate, God does not discriminate. The church of Jesus Christ, is open to all we declare, it is without discrimination.
The writer of the book of James, thought to be the brother of Jesus, in his second chapter talks of the insult we make to those we discriminate against.
“Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:17

Mercy is far more than sentiment, it is faith that works through love, it is compassion without ifs and buts.
“Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy” Mat.5:7
The world has shrunk, well it’s still the same size, more or less, but distances and travelling time, and of course being able to visit the people and their country via the television have brought the peoples of the world closer. We don’t have to rely on myths and half-truths to understand our fellow beings. There is no excuse for viewing peoples of other nations through a jaundiced eye, for categorising and stereotyping, as Paul says in Romans 2:11 “There is no partiality with God”
I suppose the best way to move beyond mere ‘understanding’
is to be active and acknowledge those who are ‘different’, whether by colour or race or poor or oppressed, and find ways to engage, to be compassionate, tolerant, to contribute.
“Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:
Some quotes: “In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” Dalai Lama.
“The need of the moment is not one religion, but mutual respect and tolerance of the devotees of different religions.” Mahatma Gandhi. “Tolerance is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.” Helen Keller.
So often through history, the Christian Church has been the source of disunity where disunity need not exist. As followers of Jesus Christ we must think and speak the truth in love. We must be motivated by God’s love, not our own selfish motives.
Gordon Abernethy