…first to the Jew, and also to the Greek….
Are You Up for The Challenge?
The challenge is unmistakable: don’t be ashamed of the gospel. Rather, see it as God’s active power to save every believer. Also, know that it includes both Jews and Greeks. Essentially, this means that no one in this world is excluded.
That’s when our barriers come up. “I’m not good at witnessing,” you say. So you don’t. “They’re not like me,” you say. So you don’t associate with them. We find any number of excuses to protect our safe zone.
Are We Dividing or Uniting?
Our personal world shrinks daily as polarization and exclusions increase. Barriers are erected against various persons, groups, and cultures. We feel comfortable in our confines, and change is something we resist. Distrust, animosity, and even hatred can grow. We may have experienced this exclusion ourselves or participated in rejecting others.
How did Jesus respond to those around Him? Did He support exclusion? Was He a barrier builder or a barrier breaker? Reading His encounter with the Samaritan woman (John 4:9-20), with the centurion servant’s healing (Matthew. 8:5-13), or with the Good Samaritan parable in response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:30-37) gives us the answer.
Our Example in Jesus
No barriers existed for Him. The Jews despised these people, but Jesus, a Jew, reached out to them. Other stories in the New Testament are filled with Peter, Philip, Paul and others reaching out to those despised Gentiles. Why did they do this? They were simply following Christ’s example.
Perhaps Galatians 3:28-29 best sums up the position every Christian should take regarding relationships: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, make nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” What is that promise? God said to Abraham in Genesis 22:18: “Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.” This early messianic promise was ultimately for everyone everywhere.
What About You?
So, where do you stand? Are you behind a barrier of your own building? Break it down, start anew, and begin to see the world and people as Jesus does. He has chosen you to be His light to the world (Matthew 5:14-16), not just to your particular group.
The question you must ask yourself is this: “Will I be that light to everyone? Will I be like Jesus?” No excuse will ever be sufficient. This is Christ’s will for you
Consider the barriers that you may be holding onto in your life, especially as they pertain to those who are different from you. Ask the Lord to reveal these to you. Meditate on Ephesians 4:4-6, Galatians 3:28, Psalms 22:27-28, and Psalms 86:9. Memorize one or all of them so the Holy Spirit can use them in your life going forward.