This weekend I have been reminded so much of how, although the world is full of different cultures, Christ is a unifying force. It started with a women’s breakfast were we had an international theme – lots of silly quizzes and yummy food from around the world – but we were challenged to live by God’s kingdom standards no matter what culture or place we are in.
Jeremiah 29:7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
Given the rumours and threats of xenophobia in South Africa at the moment this was a very counter-culture message and goes against the common reaction of closing ranks.
Then I read a friends blog this morning and found the same radical counter-culture message. You can check out John’s blog here. He talks about Jesus and the woman at the well – Jesus smashed so many social taboos by talking to her – a Samaritan, a woman & a woman of bad reputation.
How easy it is to live a life that divides the world into Us and Them – the good and the bad. It is a comfortable way to live life because we then only associate ourselves with those who make is comfortable. But Jesus has called us to a more radical life – to be part of a group that transcends culture (not abolishes it) and recognises our commonalities in Christ, not our differences.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
It is even a counter-cultural movement that stops us from judging between the ‘deserving’ and the ‘undeserving’ by asking us to reach out to those in need, without deciding if they are worthy of our help or not.
Matthew 25:35-40 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Jesus does not say only feed those who are hungry through no fault of their own and visit those in prison who are innocent and falsely imprisoned. He challenges us to serve without judging. The truth is that in Christ no one is better that the other and before Christ we are all equally stuck in sin. So while we divided ourselves into groups by culture and value God does not – we are either sinners or saved sinners. None has more value or worth than an other.
Lord, let me see people as you see them and serve them as you do, even if they are not-my-sort-of-people, they are yours.