Why did God make so many different people and cultures?

Hi friends,

Today the liturgical reading included Isaiah 42:5-9.

Verses 5-7 read,

This is what God, the LORD, says—
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk on it—
“I am the LORD. I have called you
for a righteous purpose,
and I will hold you by your hand.
I will watch over you, and I will appoint you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light to the nations,
in order to open blind eyes,
to bring out prisoners from the dungeon,
and those sitting in darkness from the prison house.
I am the LORD. That is my name,
and I will not give my glory to another
or my praise to idols."

It’s an astonishingly hopeful and expansive vision of God’s calling for the Messiah.

As John Oswalt states, in discussing the phrase “a covenant for the people,” “The sense is almost certainly that the Servant represents the covenant, much as Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)” (NICOT).

He goes on to note,

But beyond that, there is the hope of a new covenant, one that it will be possible for the people to keep because it will be internalized through the power of the Holy Spirit (59:21; Jer. 31:31–34: Ezek. 16:60; 36:26–27; 37:26). In this covenant even the Gentiles will be invited to participate (Isa. 56:3–4), and by means of it the light of the covenant God will extend to all the nations (2:3; 60:1–3).

So why does God want the light of his covenant - found in Jesus - to extend to all nations?

First, though it seems almost too obvious to mention, racism is a wicked sin that is a violation of God’s created order. When God creates different kinds of humans equally - we all bear his image - racism responds by saying, “Our kind is better than their kind.” Racism is built on a lie that denies the goodness of God’s creation.

So part of God’s intent to repair the damage of sin is to invite people of every nation and culture to experience salvation - to go from darkness to light.

Second, as far as I know, and insofar as my DNA testing can confirm, I am not Jewish.

Isaiah’s audience would likely be startled and surprised that a Gentile like me could be included in the covenant promises made to Abraham. As I consider God’s promises, fulfilled in Christ, I am grateful that God rescued me from my idolatry and gave me a love for Jesus.

But it is surprising that I, as a non-Jewish person, have something to contribute to understanding God.

One implication is that this realization should open my heart to see what people of every culture can share.

God intends for his light to go to every nation. Therefore, I am curious to see what members of every culture have seen of God!

To understand an infinite God, it seems that we need more than one way of comprehending God. What better way than to create men and women of differing personalities in different cultures, who can each testify to God’s glory?

What other reasons do you see for God making so many different kinds of people?

(I won’t mention the obvious benefit of many different kinds of food!!!)


Why did God make so many different cultures?

This is a thought provoking question. Cultures differ in values, communication styles, etiquette, social structure, art forms, experiences, interests, language, clothing, food etc. When we come across aspects of a foreign culture that are new to us, we are uncomfortable. Sometimes we even tip into self-righteousness, anger or fault-finding. But clearly God is comfortable in all cultures and accepts praise from every tongue, tribe and nation. Christ broke the dividing walls of hostility between cultures (Eph 2: 14-16). When we accept Christ into our hearts, we feel convicted to imitate our Lord but we feel no pressure from the Lord to leave our cultural identities behind. God does not look at outward appearances but the heart of a person. Through the acceptance we receive from our Lord no matter our cultural background, we learn an important principle of accepting other people as they are and also appreciating our own unique cultural identities. It’s easy to love when there are no differences but hard to love when there are differences. By extending love across cultural differences, we magnify God’s glory. I wonder if God created different cultures to teach us what love is.

Thank you for this prompt as it has helped me reflect on how my cultural background led to shifts in my understanding of spirituality and life.

Having been raised in India, community and spirituality were both central to my upbringing, but it was within the Christian context that I expanded my understanding of these ideas.

My collectivistic culture taught me the importance of community, of sacrificing one’s own interest for the benefit of the family or community. However, Christianity helped me expand my concept of community and sacrifice, to show concern for one another’s needs, regardless of socioeconomic status, family ties, castes or cultures in a way that honors God. As a new believer when still in India, I witnessed some Christians who extended friendship that transcended caste barriers and economic status. For instance, I saw Christians who spent time getting to know the stories of their housemaids, visiting their homes, counseling and ministering to their needs and inviting them to church.

In India we extend hospitality by offering food, refreshments, and seek to make the guests feel cared for and comfortable. I think Christianity has once again expanded the definition of hospitality to include the love and comfort of the Lord. This kind of hospitality requires me to be consistent in my own devotion to the Lord.

Community is a major source of security and comfort in a collectivistic culture, but through Christ these communities can be even better as we submit in humility to God and to one another.

In Indian culture, it is expected to show deference and consideration towards older people, such as addressing them with respect, seeking their advice and following traditions. Submitting to authority is the expected and natural thing to do and it is not polite to question that wisdom. However, sometimes truth is lost in traditions. Christianity has taught me to question tradition and authority when necessary.

In the practices that were handed to me through my Indian upbringing, I see ways in which godly values like loyalty, hospitality, humility, were lived out. With the light of the bible, I think its possible to express the love of God even more within our distinct cultures.

I am very curious to hear from other cultures. It will greatly help in appreciating the strengths of different cultures.


Something I’m feeling challenged on at the moment is how different cultures worship God in different ways in their local communities. 99% of my Christian experience is in a standard church building with screens, wires running to the worship band, rows of seats, coffee, doughnuts, and walls everywhere. I remember when I went to Rwanda and saw how churches met in rooms without any other frills and worshipped their hearts out. It was so beautiful because the people couldn’t hide behind technology or instruments. Clapping, dancing, rhythm and joy! No faulty microphones, no cake to run out of!

Particularly in my own setting, on a local level, different local sub cultures in my area have vastly different worldviews. Around me, there is the normal town/city communities where churches are located. This city culture’s worship can be summarised by meeting together in a building, using technology for the worship and coming together as a community to share food - probably this sums up most 21st century western expressions of church community.

However, these methods of worship don’t fit what a lot of Christians are hungering for: to worship God in nature. So many people have said to me that they feel more connected to God when outdoors in the countryside than they are in a building. I want to be specific here and clarify that they are not wanting to worship nature. They simply feel more connected with their creator when they sit on grass, hear birds, and look at the trees. In my local area is also a community of people who would describe themselves as connected with the earth. They have rejected mainstream culture and live life differently - as naturally as possible. These people practice spirituality through nature. They haven’t yet found Jesus as the Lord of all creation and so have misdirected their worship to creation. However, I can’t help but feel that by detaching themselves from mainstream culture, they’re finding a way to worship that ‘mainstream’ church has lost, probably many centuries ago.

Coming back to your question, then, I wanted to just add that by perceiving sub cultures local to me, I’m feeling inspired to worship God in new ways that my current culture doesn’t make space for. I think there should be more churches who meet outdoors in a field, rather than a windowless building, for example! There could be sensory opportunities for glorifying God as pigeons flap their wings overhead, and streams trickle by. I wonder how much we could worship God differently through the Psalms if we happen to be sitting in a pasture with the sun on us rather than a sterilised building that dislocates us from the environment that God made us to live in?

That’s what is so invigorating about experiencing other cultures. It provides opportunity for us to question our own culture, and identify where we have stagnated and need to break into new freedom of worship.