December 16, 2015

Micah 4:2 Many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

The Japanese makes one detail of this verse clear that might be overlooked in the way every English translation I’ve seen expresses this verse, and that is that the “many nations” mentioned here are all Gentiles. When you think about it that might go without saying, but I know that I personally don’t think about, “I’m a Gentile.” The more egalitarian, you might say modern, our upbringing, the less we tend to think about such distinctions. However, differing people-groups were evidently God’s idea, and there are reasons they exist. Just as Paul goes to some lengths to express differences between individuals and giftings in 1 Corinthians 12, comparing them to the different parts of a human body, even so different people-groups have different characteristics that together add to the richness of humanity. This isn’t currently a politically correct line of thinking, but it is practical reality. God’s goal has never been sameness, but rather unity, and there is a huge difference. These days people tend to get all up in arms over race, when every human being alive needs to get humble before God and repent and seek His ways, just as this verse says. Racial differences are real, just as gender differences and a lot of other differences are real, but we need to realize they are not differences in value. We all have different characteristics and different lives, yet God loves each of us individually enough to die for us. As the familiar English carol says, He “calls you one and calls you all to gain His everlasting hall.” The fulfillment of this verse is found in the Christian Church, which gathers from every people-group to the God of Jacob.

This is of course what I am all about, as someone of English/Scotch-Irish ancestry ministering the Gospel in Japan. My task is to teach people the ways of God, regardless of their ethnic background: His love, His grace, His holiness. I’ve lost track of how many different ethnic backgrounds have been represented in this church over the years, but it’s quite an assortment. Each one has brought a different “spice” to the mix, with differing strengths and weaknesses. The point, as this verse says, is that we are each to walk in the path – not highway – that God has prepared for us. Those paths intertwine, and all of His paths indeed go to the same place, but they aren’t identical. As a pastor/teacher I need to help people understand both the universal truths of God’s Word and the individual paths God has prepared for them. That is obviously beyond my personal ability, but God can use me to get the job done if I will be yielded to Him.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I’m not sure I’ve ever expressed it quite this way before. Help me be faithful to express Your truth in Your words all the time, as I speak to the prayer breakfast this morning and in my every interaction with people, so that Your Word may accomplish that for which You send it, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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