93. Will I lose my ethnic identity if I become a Christian or a Muslim?

God created diversity in creation. All the species God created have countless variations. This diversity was intended to bring glory to God by demonstrating his remarkable intelligence and unlimited variety. All races of the world have their own language and in that language they have a unique name for the Supreme Creator God. The Chinese have ‘Shangti’(上帝), the Arabs ‘Allâh’, and Maori ‘Io’. These cultures also have their flood stories and other epochs that relate closely to the stories of the Old Testament. God has been at work in peoples of all races since creation and the events surrounding Babel. Babel, recorded in Genesis chapter 11, tells of the epoch when people were scattered all over the earth with their own unique language and anthropological distinctions. This scattering and confusion of languages was not only God’s judgement on mankind for their pride in thinking that they could reach up into heaven and threaten God’s heavenly kingdom, but also a mechanism to create diversity among the races of mankind. God reasoned that this diversity would ensure that there would always be at least one people group who would remain faithful and worship Him.

When Jesus gave his disciples His final command in Matthew 28 verses 18 – 20 He specifically mentioned the task of taking the gospel of the kingdom of God to all ethnic people groups. In Matthew 24 v 14 Jesus states that ‘this gospel about the kingdom will be preached in the whole world to every ethnic people so they will hear it and then the end will come.’ Jesus expresses His Father’s concern that every ethnic people group with receive the good news. The Book of Revelation chapter 21 verses 24 – 27 gives us a prophetic view of the Heavenly City filled with people from all ethnic people groups. The picture he saw would not enable the prophet John to distinguish all the ethnic people groups if they had lost their ethnic distinctions. We conclude that they retain their ethnic identity and that it is God’s intention for them to do so.

All ethnic people groups who become Christians have the responsibility to discern their cultural traditions and cleanse them of evil practices. This is the work of repentance and faith. It must be a work of the Holy Spirit within the leaders of the Church in a culture and not imposed by people of another culture. Genuine repentance is an act of the will and comes from the heart of the person convicted of the need to repent and not imposed by someone else.