(This “Application“ column goes with the Bible lesson for April 26, 2020: “His Chosen People.“)
By David Faust
My wife, Candy, volunteers with a ministry in our church called English Talk Time. Neighbors from Japan, Korea, Brazil, China, and other nations come to our church building each Wednesday morning to learn conversational English. It’s a practical way to assist our neighbors, but it leads to some humorous verbal exchanges.
When your friends speak little English, how do you explain to them the difference between “aisle,” “isle,” and “I’ll”? Why can you read the same book today that you read yesterday, although read is spelled the same but pronounced differently each time? If you order roast duck in a restaurant, of course the duck doesn’t have a bill—but you will get a bill for the meal, which you can pay with a $50 bill to the waiter named Bill.
Differences of language and culture have challenged the human race since the tower of Babel. When my family lived near New York City, church meals featured Italian pasta dishes served alongside Filipino, Chinese, Greek, and Puerto Rican specialties. It was a prescription for international heartburn, but our congregation’s ethnic diversity also was a foretaste of Heaven. We found a bond of cross-cultural unity at the feet of Jesus.
Blessing All Nations
God chose Israel to receive unique privileges and to fulfill a special mission, but his ultimate purpose was to bless all nations. God’s love for all people groups shines throughout the Bible. For example,
- Non-Jewish people often lived among the Israelites, and God’s law included provisions to protect and assist them (Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33, 34).
- The Lord told the Hebrews that he “defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18).
- He said to “love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19).
- God healed the Syrian soldier, Naaman (2 Kings 5).
- God showed grace to Nineveh, the center of Assyria’s terrorist war machine (Jonah 3).
- The psalms invite “all the peoples” to praise God and urge all nations to “be glad and sing for joy” (Psalm 67:3, 4).
- Non-Jews with rough-edged stories, like Rahab and Ruth, appear in the human lineage of the Messiah (Matthew 1:5).
- Jesus crossed cultural lines by showing grace to Samaritans, Syro-Phoenicians, Roman centurions, and Greeks.
- Jesus said to make disciples of all ethnic groups and spread his good news everywhere (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8).
- The early church sacrificially sent missionaries to search for God’s lost sheep in far-flung nations of the earth.
- In Heaven, people “from every nation, tribe, people and language” praise God together (Revelation 7:9).
These scriptural principles remind us to open our eyes and recognize God’s image in everyone we meet. And to open our hearts and put ourselves in others’ shoes. And to open our homes and our churches, recognizing that in the battle for souls, kindness and hospitality are powerful secret weapons.
We all come from different places—geographically, generationally, culturally, socially—but we are all sinners, and we are all loved by God. By his grace, we can find our true identity by being baptized into the family of faith where there “is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27, 28).
Personal Challenge: This week, consider how you can develop a bond of cross-cultural unity at the feet of Jesus with someone. Begin with prayer for that person and that God will give you the opportunity.