After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” – Revelation 7:9-10
The story of the Bible closes with a vision of God’s kingdom on earth. At the end of time, history’s completion is illustrated as a gathering filled with people of every ethnicity, language and nation, singing together in a beautiful chorus of praise to God. What a beautiful picture!
God’s heart is that we, with our unique histories and cultures, languages and perspectives, would live in unity with one another, working to reflect the perfect love of God. He created us differently, and we each image his character in a unique way. When we come together and love one another well, we are reflecting God and his perfect relationship with himself as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is beauty in our differences, and it’s meant to be that way. Our differences make loving others well a reflection of the character of God.
God’s heart is for unity, not uniformity
This idea is nice, but it doesn’t often translate into reality. We live in a world that counts differences as opportunities for division. We’re hardwired in our sinful nature to have an us versus them mentality, and we often devalue people who look, sound and act differently than we do.
Instead of a beautiful song of praise filled with the voices of a diverse choir, we hear clamor as every individual and group sing their own tune. Sometimes, this noise seems inescapable, but Jesus has shown us another way—the way of God’s kingdom, the truth of God’s reconciling redemption and the life of God’s multiethnic family. Revelation’s vision of people from every nation and ethnicity coming together to worship God isn’t something we just wait for Jesus to accomplish. As his followers, we are called to align our lives with the radical vision of God’s kingdom coming to earth.
An aspiring vision
The great multitude wearing white robes and holding palm branches are the souls saved through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The multitude is made up of every nation, tribe, people and language, but their differences don’t divide them. Instead, they are united in worship and service to God, each enjoying a close relationship with him.
Churches today can reflect this diverse yet unified vision of heaven by showing their unity across national, ethnic, economic and generational boundaries. When we pray, worship, read Scripture or march against injustice together, we are reflecting this incredible unity that comes from God.
As Christians, we believe that every person is made in God’s image and therefore has infinite value. But that isn’t enough. We should try to live out what we believe. What does this look like in your life?
Drawn from The NIV Telos Bible.
Created to meet the spiritual needs of high school and college students, the NIV Telos Bible is designed to be contextually relevant and to challenge young adults to take a meaningful look at the Bible. It encourages this diverse generation to know and follow Jesus while discovering what the Bible says about the subjects that are most important to them. Acting as a student’s guide through Scripture, this Bible includes tools like book introductions, reading plans, core questions and answers, and journaling prompts to equip young adults to make sense of the Bible.