"That kind of diversity looks fake" he said as we walked out of the Dome after one of the Urbana plenary sessions. This student noticed that up on stage there were men and women of Asian, African, Latino and European descent. In fact, he noticed that (other than Alec Hill, who runs InterVarsity, and Jim Tebbe, who runs Urbana) only one of the main speakers was a white, American male. And I appreciated both his attentiveness and his honesty.
He was awakening to a hard truth: the gospel looks fake to us.
When Paul reached for evidence that the good news of Jesus Christ was meaningful, he went to two different places (mainly):
1) The gospel changes lives
2) The gospel creates a new community
This "new community", the church, is made up of people who wouldn't normally be in relationship with each other. This "new community", the church, crosses all sorts of lines and creates a special diversity.
This diversity is special because it is unnatural. This student knew that. He commented that "People tend to self-segregate" and he's right. They do. We do. We gravitate toward people we like, toward people who like us, toward people like us. And so diversity is rare. Homogeneity is common.
And here's the kicker: the world wants diversity. The world tries to create diversity, to force it. Even though we naturally gravitate toward The Similar, we long to be connected to The Different. And forced diversity looks fake. It is fake. It's plastered on the outside, but doesn't look natural. People are dragged together, not drawn together.
So, when, through the gospel, Jesus creates the church, the new community, and this new community draws people together, God is glorified and people pay attention.
This is why Brenda said that we must move to a new neighborhood. Chances are, our neighborhoods are not diverse. Chances are, our churches are not diverse. Chances are, even though the gospel brings people together, we don't experience that and our friends don't experience that.
As we move toward a credible witness, we need to acknowledge that the gospel looks fake to us, that we'll feel phony living like Christ, but that this is real and that this is how we live out the gospel: we move to new neighborhoods.