Consider this quote by Craig Keener in his NIVAC commentary on Revelation 7 (pp249-250):
How should we envision Revelations’s multicultural throng? Both archaeology and writings from John’s day show us that his audience knew of not only the Mediterannean world, but also of kingdoms and traders from west and east Africa, India, China, and the British Isles, all peoples so remote from the first Christians that the image of “every tribe” may have demanded considerable faith. Our geographical knowledge today is richer, and the gospel entrenched in far more cultures. Imagine the multicultural chorus of saints from all ages – ancient Israel’s Levite psalmists, clapping African saints with joyful praises, European Reformers with their majestic hymns, monks with their Gregorian and Ethiopian Coptic chants, Latin American Pentecostals with shouts of triumph, messianic Jews dancing the horah, and a generation of North American street evangelists doing gospel rap!
Many Christians today think that the gospel obliterates cultural distinctions (and sometimes expect Christians from other cultures to simply join their churches and assimilate into their “normal” cultural style of worship). But this text suggests that, far from obliterating culture, God takes what is useful in each culture and transforms it into an instrument of praise for his glory.
On Wednesday 30 March Wycliffe’s Eddie Arthur will be delivering Redcliffe’s 2011 Lecture in Bible and Mission on Reading the Bible with the Global Church. In view of Keener’s comments it would be interesting to consider what our worship might look like if we did that alongside the global church as well.