The Jews as God’s chosen people developed a culture of separation from the Gentiles (non-Jews). When the temple was built in Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies was central, it was where God dwelt. Other areas moving outward from God’s presence allowed first for priests, then Jewish men, Jewish women, and lastly (at the outskirts) the area for Gentiles. The Gentiles weren’t allowed to draw close to God. Their very presence defiled any area the Jews considered to be holy. When Jesus came he called all people (Jews and Gentiles) to himself, breaking down the barriers that segregated and separated. He calls his followers to be ministers of peace, to draw attention to Him, to lift Him up, and to light up the world for His kingdom. Jesus threw the door wide open so that everyone has access to God through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Eph 2:10, 13-22; Mi 6:8; Ac 21:28; 1 Co 6:19
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. (Eph 2:13-14)
The temple rejected; the cross welcomed. The Law created barriers that kept people from God; Jesus came, the carrier of good news, calling all people to come to God. Jesus established a new radically inclusive community to enjoy fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Every person you know is just one prayer away from joining God’s community. The worst alcoholic, drug addict, the most profane or perverted, the extreme-control freak and the most dangerous criminal, the worst terrorist, the most vile, broken despised person you know is still just one prayer away. You can either be a carrier or a barrier. Jesus’ message was one of peace and unity. You are the temple of God in this world and you are to represent God’s love and invitation to all people, no matter how sinful or unlovable they may be. You are to glow because you may be the only presence of God in their lives.
Is there anyone you hope stays away from your church, ministry team or life group? Do you keep an exclusive boundary in your life, life group, circle of friends? Are you a carrier? If yes, to whom? Are you a barrier to anyone? If yes, to whom? Why? What needs to change? How do you differentiate between a barrier of protection and a barrier of discrimination/judgment? If you died, who would come to your funeral? How diverse would that crowd be?
Make a list of those you come in contact with regularly who don’t know Christ. Think about your relationship with each person. Consider how well you are doing representing the presence of God in their lives. Determine three things you will do to improve your witness for Christ to those around you.
Dear Heavenly Father, the very idea that I represent your presence to those around me makes me keenly aware of my unworthiness. I am so thankful that your presence was made known in my life through those who shared your word with me. Help me to be that person to others. Give me a love for those who don’t know you that transcends the reality of their sins and focuses on your great love for them. I want to be pleasing to you and I want to be a carrier of your love, hope and grace to others. In Jesus Holy Name I pray, Amen.