Metanarrative: The Story of God, The Story of Us
This year at Meta, Florida's statewide student conference, over 300 students and staff gathered to dive deep into understanding the story of God and the story of us by unpacking the purpose of culture and ethnic identity. Everyone has a story. One that is unique and filled with both beauty and brokenness, and mysteriously, God fits into it all. From creation to Revelation, in "biblical times" and today, God longs for deep, intimate relationship with all people. People of every ethnicity, tribe, tongue, and nation. This year at Meta, we explored the thread of God's love, pursuit, and longing for reconciliation with people of all ethnicities and cultures, throughout all of God's story as found in the Bible.
"Before Meta, I did not know how to fully be myself as a Colombian woman around others outside of my family; I felt like I had to hold back my culture. But at Meta, I felt God affirm me and my ethnic identity. It was an answer to prayer to know that I can celebrate my culture with my Christian community and that I should not hold anything back." - Erika | Miami Dade College
The plenary speaker, Melyssa Cordero, unpacked the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) and helped us understand that giving diversity of language to people was a gift, not a punishment, in order to help them get back on track with God's original intent: to be fruitful, to multiply and to fill the earth (Genesis 1:28, 8:17, 9:1, 9:7). This scattering of people was intended to form diversity of language, culture and ethnicity and while many of us have experienced division due to these differences, we see in scripture that these differences are designed by God to bring him greater glory and honor.
"Before Meta, I thought that ethnicity and culture was only a social issue, but now I understand that it is also a spiritual issue." - Justin | Florida International University
God's glory is revealed in people, through every nation, every tribe and every language, not just in our world now, but in the Kingdom to come, as seen in Revelation 7 and 21. This subject was a gift to us in South Florida, a place rich with diversity. Many of our students are ethnic minorities and speak other languages besides English. And while the richness of diverse cultures and ethnicities exist on our campuses, so does brokenness and division between people. We need to know the hope that Jesus brings to reconcile us to each other and himself.
We got to see the reconciling work of Jesus on Saturday night when the main speaker gave an invitation for students to commit their lives to Jesus. While students across the room began to stand to make this commitment, two brand new students from Florida Memorial University, (a campus where we recently started planting and God is doing something quite special) stood to also commit to Jesus. This was a powerful moment because in front of everyone, the speaker pointed to the two of them and affirmed them saying...
"I don't know what it is about the two of you, but God is doing something special in your lives, he sees you and he is going to use you powerfully."
During our last session at Meta, we got to debrief the conference with just South Florida students and invite them to think through how to bridge the gap that exists between people groups on their campus. In order to truly be witnessing communities, and reflect the glory of God to our campuses, we need to reach out to those who are not like us and bring dignity and value to all people. To say to ourselves and others, that God has made each of us in his image, we are beautifully and wonderfully made, and together, we bring God glory and honor.
Check out this super short clip from the Meta 19 conference!
Courtesy of Brother Soul Films