Somehow, I have to get this word out, one so deeply lodged in my soul. We live in such a phenomenal moment, a time of extreme need yet heightened possibilities. With each moment of time that I find for editing and better positioning these words that the Lord has placed on my heart, I am deeply moved by the ramifications of their content. Maybe I take myself too seriously, as I sit in front of this strategic portal of digital communication provided my generation? I trust that my readers will not grow weary of my excitement and re-posts, as once more I find myself elated at the possibilities that await when we begin to act as Christ to our generation and step above the limitations of what Christianity as a religion has become.
In a recent sermon, a reference was made to John 10:16, where Jesus speaks of the Gentiles as “other sheep that are not of this sheep pen.” At that time, the focus of the Kingdom was upon the redemption of the House of Israel, but there was coming a shift, a “grafting” in of others than the Jews. The religious of that day were defiant in their segregation of non-Jews; ethnicity and disease similarly with Samaritans shamed as much as lepers. Yet, we witness the God-man, Christ, opening a door for redemption in the face of Pharisees that until then had been the gatekeepers of religion.
Jesus was declaring a new day on behalf of a God unwilling that any should perish. I find myself wondering if we might be in a similar time. Could God be, once again, stirring American Christianity toward a new day and at a similar time when religion has caused us to so “own” Jesus that others feel rejection if they are of other ilk than we? Who are these rejected?
A quote from the 1883 sonnet by Emma Lazarus comes to mind:
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to be free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Yes, you recognize it, don’t you? Maybe not as The Collossus, its rightful title, but as the poem engraved in bronze within the Statue of Liberty. That welcoming icon that has been the delight of immigrants for centuries and it was in fact the sweat of these same immigrants that made our nation great. Would we now as “American Christians” stand guard over this land, as if it were ours alone, though sovereign providence has established America as a bastion of freedom for all people? And could it be, that the Creator is now calling others to this land, offering the followers of Christ (The Door) in this country, an opportunity to engage a people, “a sheep”, in fact, a new sheep that we have yet to consider His?
What am I implying? Think about it, who are those we most fear, most reject in our day…that seed of Abraham that came through Hagar, the one to whom God sent an angel to console, in Genesis 16:9-13. God heard her cry and God’s message to Hagar was not one of rejection but promise, if she would simply go back to Sarai and submit to her. She did and Abram named the child Ishmael. Apparently, that generational wounding has created a struggle over the centuries; yet that DNA cannot resist His divine desire to reconcile, though often difficult for the humans involved.
God loves people!
We too are of other descent, “the grafted in”, and have little right to reject this seed of Abraham. In case you are struggling at this point, consider the question posed in Romans 9:14-15: “‘Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”’ “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one.” Romans 9:25. Yes, he was talking about us then, but maybe now, He is calling another than us; and we too must now love those whom God loves? In the scripture verse above, the writer of Romans is quoting Hosea 2:23.
We know that Hosea’s context was scripted around a wife who was unfaithful, a harlot. We, the people of God, may also have been unfaithful to His call; first in the people of Israel, who rejected Ishmael though God consoled Hagar; then those Gentiles grafted in under the Cross of Calvary, and now possible we, the American Christians who have prospered in this last bastion of freedom we call the US of A; we who profess to follow His Son, Jesus, yet live so unlike Him!
Shall we not love those whom God is sending to our shores? Would we fight against Jehovah, blocking the door to this once neglected seed of Abraham? Some will come kicking and screaming, even as radical as the Islamic Jihadist, but I came kicking and screaming also, and He received me!
Shall our fear of men over ride our love for God’s people? Had we responded in love on 9/11, and not “shock and awe”, our country’s condition might now be different, with fewer lives lost in total? Is this day of financial dilemma, the response of the God who controls wealth, challenging the seed of those who once saw this nation as a second Israel, a second chance for the “huddled masses yearning to be free?”
“Perfect love casts out fear.” (I John, 4:18)