No Longer Strangers

As the context of what he was going to say, Adam Martin (Intercultural Churches UK https://icuk.network ) told us something of the sacrificial nature of the ongoing journey of his church’s journey from a white, British gathering to an intercultural fellowship with half of the church coming from diverse cultures.   He directed us to the story in Matthew 12:46-50 when Jesus was speaking to the crowd. He was told that his mother and brothers were standing outside asking to speak to him. Jesus’ shocking response was:

“WHO IS MY MOTHER, AND WHO ARE MY BROTHERS?”

Jesus then, referring to his disciples, said:

“HERE ARE MY MOTHER AND MY BROTHERS. FOR WHOEVER DOES THE WILL OF MY FATHER IN HEAVEN IS MY BROTHER AND SISTER AND MOTHER.”

Jesus said this small group of disciples from diverse backgrounds was more family to him than his own family and from it grew the church, spreading beyond Israel to the nations and over the generations, fulfilling the promise to Abraham that he would make him:

“…A GREAT NATION…AND YOU WILL BE A BLESSING AND ALL PEOPLES ON EARTH WILL BE BLESSED THROUGH YOU.”

The same promise came to Isaiah where the Lord said he would bring foreigners who loved him:

“…TO MY HOLY MOUNTAIN AND GIVE THEM JOY IN MY HOUSE OF PRAYER…FOR MY HOUSE WILL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL NATIONS.”

In the New Testament God’s people from all the known world around Jerusalem were filled with the Holy Spirit and the church was born and moved to meeting in houses. Paul took up this theme when he wrote to the Ephesians:

“SO NOW YOU GENTILES ARE NO LONGER STRANGERS AND FOREIGNERS. YOU ARE CITIZENS ALONG WITH ALL OF GOD’S HOLY PEOPLE. YOU ARE MEMBERS OF GOD’S FAMILY.”

From these homes the church spread out to Europe and then into the wider world. In John’s vision in Revelation the story comes to a beautiful climax and conclusion where the people of God meet around the throne singing a new song.

“YOU ARE WORTHY TO TAKE THE SCROLL AND TO OPEN ITS SEALS, BECAUSE YOU WERE SLAIN, AND WITH YOUR BLOOD YOU PURCHASED FOR GOD PERSONS FROM EVERY TRIBE AND LANGUAGE AND PEOPLE AND NATION. YOU HAVE MADE THEM TO BE A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS TO SERVE OUR GOD, AND THEY WILL REIGN ON THE EARTH.”

Becoming such a multi-cultured people is not just a good social project or a church growth strategy.

Becoming a multi-cultured church is:

  1. what Jesus shed his blood for – to win for himself people from every tribe, language and nation. It is a ‘blood of Christ issue’ that we welcome people into God’s family and make whatever sacrifice or adaption is necessary to be a foretaste of this heavenly reality; and
  2. a ‘glory of God issue’ as Jesus bought us for God with his blood and presents us as his offering to his Father – a people won from many different nations and backgrounds for God’s glory on earth.
    John Piper described this as:

“…AIMING AT THE ALL-SATISFYING, EVERLASTING, GOD-CENTRED, CHRIST-EXALTING EXPERIENCE OF MANY CULTURED WORSHIP.”

Adam said we were called to be family but asked: are we really being family? Do we know the names of people and their children? Do we host others in our homes? Do we know of others’ pain and stress? Intercultural church is more than meeting together on a Sunday morning.

Reflection

What would it mean for us to live out really being family?

  • When did we last host someone from another culture in our home?
  • When did I ask someone their story and what was it like where they grew up?
  • When did we ask someone their names and pray with them for their family?


Challenge
This week, could we take one small step of love towards someone from another culture and then the following week take another one?

It is all about many small steps on a long journey to living as God’s diverse family.

John Warke

John Warke

I have been a member of Windsor for around fifty years and over that period have been involved in many aspects of church life. I am retired and before that I worked as a Planning Appeals Commissioner. My interests include reading, gardening, cricket (now from an armchair) and 'coffeeing' with friends.
John Warke
I have been a member of Windsor for around fifty years and over that period have been involved in many aspects of church life. I am retired and before that I worked as a Planning Appeals Commissioner. My interests include reading, gardening, cricket (now from an armchair) and 'coffeeing' with friends.