The church is God’s way of modeling to the world the realities of His Kingdom. Though we often get lost in our 21st century perception of institutions that center around cool worship, a fancy building, and great preaching, the truth is that this is not the essence of the church. Just like it was then, the purpose of the body of believers is to bring the Lord’s heart to earth and to demonstrate, in action, the values of our Savior. This is why, in a society fractured by the ravages of prejudice, the church is the only true hope for reconciliation and healing. Though we might not think about it, the world into which Jesus was born was filled with its own brand of racism. It began with the Jews and the Samaritans, who, even though they were close ethnically, had a deep-seated hatred for each other. Then there were the Greeks, the Seleucids, and others from the reign of Alexander the Great who brought many good things to the Hebrew’s midst but also introduced sexual promiscuity that was in direct violation of their laws. Of course, we can’t forget the Romans, who had conquered pretty much the whole world, and were occupying Israel in Jesus’ day. You can bet your bottom dollar that they weren’t any more liked by the Jews than were the Greeks. Add to their ranks the barbarians, who actually outnumbered civilized folks and lived a lot like animals, and the Scythians, who literally existed to raid and pillage, and you can see clearly that — even in the ancient world — issues of race abounded. In the midst of an eclectic mix of clashing cultures, the only place where unity happened was within the church. Originally called followers of The Way, early Christians were a diverse group, yet their gatherings offered a safe space where Jews, Greeks, Romans, barbarians and Scythians could meet together in union, break bread, and esteem one other as equals.
My friend, as a Christian, you are a minister of reconciliation, and you have the incredible opportunity of fostering unity in a divided world. As one whose slate has been wiped clean by the atonement of Jesus Christ, you live every day in gratitude, and you see others through the lens of your own salvation. Because you understand how much you were delivered from, you perceive great value and unlimited potential in those who are different than you, and you consider them to be equals. Regardless of their skin color, background, financial status, or family situation, you recognize that everyone is made in the image of God and you desire to walk alongside them in love. This is the hallmark of a true disciple, and it’s the only position of mind and heart that will change the world for the better. By the Holy Spirit’s power, you are an ambassador of true healing, and when you embrace that reality, the impact of your life will outlive you!