Friday, November 12, 2021
One of the highlights of ministry life for me is to see people from radically different religious backgrounds coming together in Christ and forming a loving, unified body because of the peace provided for them at the cross. I am especially blessed to have experienced this in other cultures.
I have been doing a lot of thinking about the Philippines and India lately. I pray almost daily that the Lord would provide a way for me to return to those countries and personally participate in the mission works I love there. I pray that international travel will be able to be a reality for me.
I am especially moved by the transforming power of the cross when I think about the tribal churches that have been planted up in the mountains. I have visited several of those churches, and I remember one in particular. The church met in a community shelter in this extremely poverty stricken area. Now you must not visualize a community center according to American standards. The building was 8’ x 8’ made of bamboo with a palm branch roof, and a small 15’ x 10’ dirt courtyard surrounded by a broken down bamboo fence. We had church on this particular Sunday morning in the courtyard, with around 45 people in attendance. They had walked up to 10 miles down the mountain trails to get there that morning so that we would not have to try to take the mission vehicle up the muddy trail to their village. We sang some songs to the sounds of a crude guitar played by one of the tribal boys who was learning to praise God with an instrument. No worship band – just worshipping people! It was awesome. I preached that morning on Elijah and the prophets of Baal when they met on the mountain. I shared how God’s power conquered the false worshippers.
The reason I had chosen that story for that day was because of the living reality of it in those people. They came from a tribe of false worshippers and spiritism, and they had never heard the truth of Jesus until one of the graduates of our Bible college went there to plant a church. These had been people who had never seen a white man, and who probably would have killed one in their village area if he had gone there unannounced and unescorted. They were dressed as well as their meager means would allow. A few of them still had some teeth. Our American standards have conditioned us to avoid such people. But now, because of the cross, we were worshipping together. We were smiling at each other with a joy that is only shared between family members. In fact, I am crying my eyes out right now as I write this because of the joy in my heart that Jesus saves equally and completely.
Ephesians 2:11-18 “…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
Just think, in Christ we have equal access to the Father! I receive no preferential treatment from God because I am American or have a home or money or cars or because I dress right, and especially not because I have a particular color of skin. In Christ we are all one!
That’s the power of the cross – it brings peace that passes all human reason. Let’s not draw lines of separation between people when Jesus came to obliterate those lines and make us one!