March 18
Rev. Matt Miller
Erskine Theological Seminary
Multiculturalism and Catholicity

Rom. 15:7
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Every Lord’s Day, most ARP congregations profess “the holy catholic church” (several
profess “the holy universal church”) in the Apostles’ Creed. But how well are we living
out what we profess?

Paul urged the church in Rome, a mostly Gentile congregation faced with an influx of
Jewish Christians, to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of
God” (Rom. 15:7). This challenging call required bringing together believers from
different backgrounds, postures and preferences. To that end, Paul labored in Romans
14 to help the congregation set aside their “likes” for the sake of real “loves”—their love
for the Lord and for each other.

As they put aside their “likes” for the sake of real “loves,” that church in Rome became a
more multicultural congregation. Or, better put, that multicultural congregation became
a new, otherworldly culture—a culture that transcended national, ethnic and racial
divisions. This otherworldly culture would later be described by the word “catholic”—a
remarkable achievement of the Spirit as He unites different peoples into the same
Christ, through whom they call upon “one God and Father, who is over all and through
all and in all” (Eph. 4:6).

Theologian Herman Bavinck writes: “This catholicity of the church, as the Scriptures
portray it for us and the early churches exemplify it for us is breathtaking in its beauty.”
But then he warns: “Whoever becomes enclosed in the narrow circle of a small church
or conventicle, does not know [this catholicity] and has never experienced its power and
comfort. Such a person shortchanges the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and
the fellowship of the Spirit and . . . will have an impoverished soul.”

If we find ourselves so “enclosed,” may the Lord help us put aside our “likes” for the
sake of real “loves,” so that we may “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you
. . .” (Rom. 15:7).

Questions for Further Study

1) What does today’s passage teach us about the character of God?
2) What are some other passages of Scripture that also teach us this?
3) How does today’s passage and devotion lead you to pray? How does it lead you to
act?