“The common enemy of all ethical systems is the narrow and relentless pursuit of self-interest at the exclusion of everyone else” (Liew, 2008).
God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34 KJV). To be a respecter means that you show actions of acceptance and hold attitudes of impartiality towards others. Imparitiality in practice shows unbiased, unprejudiced and equitable attitudes and actions. Jesus displayed the nature of impartiality during His earthly ministry throughout the Gospels, as well as the inclusive passage of entry to grace. The Great Commission to “teach all nations” (Matt 28:19) holds clear the premises of impartiality and inclusion.
The Blue Letter Bible defines all in Matt 28:19 as “each, every, all, the whole, all things, and everything” (2012). You read this in “all the world” and “every creature” (Mark 16:15), “all nations” (Luke 24:47) and all Judea and Samaria, and (Acts 1:8b). Also, “to the ends of the earth” reflects the nature of all.
Ministering to the All of Society
There is a call to minister to the all of society. This means that believers mirror God’s character of impartiality to foundation a house accessible to reconciliation with Him. The inclusionary side of all and impartiality aspect of respecter work in tandem with each other. This duality found in the call to the all can make you feel uncomfortable because it involves ministering from an ethnorelative point of view of accepting, adapting and integrating differences in culture (Bennet; 1986, 1993). You must consider what you see, hear and touch from external culture, and discern beliefs, values, thought patterns and myths of internal (See below illustration of cultural iceberg, adapted by Culbertson from Weaver, 1998).
Creating a Culture of Impartiality and Inclusivity
The first step to impart a culture characterized by impartiality and inclusivity, requires honest introspection and personal commitment to change. Eric Law says that ethnocentrism exists, “when a person brought up in one culture, having never seen or experienced a different culture, believes that his or her culture’s way of doing things is the right way” (Law, 1993, p.4). Well, let’s real talk. – Most likely, everyone has known or unknown ethnocentric views to some degree. Realizing the need for change is critical to growth, and allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal those things that need to be changed is paramount to a mind enveloped with impartiality for all peoples. The next step is to reflect on how to respond to the call of ministering to the all of society. In doing so, develop concrete actions that support inclusion and impartiality. Finally, the last step is to assess spiritual growth in others by measuring maturity, unity, favor and numbers (Acts 2:42-47).
Eric H. F. Law refers to the term grace margin, which is the distance between the safe and fear zones. To respond to the call to the all of society, a person must leave the safe and fear zones and enter into the grace margins.
- How do you transition a faith community into the grace margin?
- In what ways can you stretch margin boundaries to minister to a person from another’s culture?
- Blue Letter Bible. (2012) All. Retrieved on January 20, 2012, from http://www.blueletterbible.org.
- Dictionary.com. (2012). Impartiality. Retrieved on January 20, 2012, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/impartiality
- Kraft, C. (2005). Christianity in culture: A study in biblical theologizing in cross-cultural perspective. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
- Law, E. (2000). Inclusion: Making room for grace. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press.
- Law, E. (1993). The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: A spirituality for multicultural community. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press.
- Liew, T. (2008). “The moral limits of impartiality.” Kemanusiaan. Retrieved on January 20, 2012, from http://web.usm.my/kajh/watermarkKEMANUSIAAN%2015/artikel%204.pdf
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- Rogers, G. The role of worldview in missions and multiethnic ministry. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from http://www.amazon.com/Role-Worldview-Missions-Multiethnic-Ministry/dp/0977439631/ref=wl_it_dp_o_npd?ie=UTF8&coliid=I33WWU44TRX90K&colid=5XE3FUG9O31Z#_
- Shenk, W. (1999). Changing frontiers of mission. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
- Smith, D. (2002). Creating understanding: A handbook for Christian communication across cultural landscapes. Tyndale.
- Weaver,G., (ed.). (2000). Culture, communication and conflict: Readings in intercultural relations. Boston, MA: Pearson Publications.
- Whitesel, B. (2011). Organix. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
- Witherington, B. (1998). The Acts of the Apostles: A socio-rhetorical commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing.
- Wurzel, J.S. (Ed.) (2004). Toward multiculturalism: A reader in multicultural education. Newton, MA: Intercultural Resource Corporation.
- Yamamori, T. (1993). Penetrating missions’ final frontier: A new strategy for unreached peoples. Downer’s Gove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Cultural Iceberg: http://home.snu.edu/~hculbert/iceberg.htm
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January 20, 2012