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Purpose & Diversity in the Church

Written by David Steltz

Posted on July 21st, 2023

Last Edited on July 21st, 2023

A reflection on how Christ gives the church purpose and promotes diversity as an ideal characteristic of the body.


One of the most common crises of existentialism to vex humanity is the pursuit of some sense of purpose or meaning in our lives. This is a particularly poignant contemplation in an era of unprecedented awareness regarding our incomprehensibly tiny existence in the landscape of the vast cosmos.

It is human nature to seek purpose for our lives, as well as to find it, at least to some extent, in religion. Christianity is unique in many ways, but one upon which I have meditated while studying Ephesians, Matthew, and John, is the extent to which Christ serves both the individual, AND the whole; not one at the expense of the other, but rather both for the sake of each.

Salvation is a multifaced journey into which we may be drawn by a God-given sense of self-preservation. A will to live. That is a wonderful thing!

When we read John 3:16, it is an incredibly profound, uplifting statement that each one of us can individually take to heart. And that is perfectly legitimate!

John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 

However, there is purpose to salvation far beyond our own lives.  Paul makes it abundantly clear throughout Ephesians that it does not stop there. For example, put rather concisely here:

Ephesians 5:1–2: Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave Himself up for us, an offering, and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. 

And the very same John who wrote the first verse said this:

1 John 3:16: By this we have known love, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for each other. 

These verses collectively convey the message that God's profound love for humanity was displayed through Christ's sacrificial death, and that we are called to live a life of love, echoing His selfless sacrifice, and extending this love towards others.


Building on this idea of community being core to the design of God’s kingdom, we ought also to seek and welcome diversity within the church.

To paraphrase a conversation that stood out to me from The Bible Project Classroom course on Ephesians, “Grasping the love of God requires a community of people that are unlike me. Even hostile to me.”

Such a community may very well describe any family unit, biological or otherwise, but not necessarily. In other words, some communities are simply diverse by nature, and others are not. By nature of geography and anthropology at this time, some churches will “appear” to be more homogenous than others. But how many of us only stick around with people and places and institutions that blindly validate our assumptions rather than challenge them?

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Purpose & Diversity in the Church