God’s Acceptance; February 12, 2021

Isaiah 56:8 The Sovereign Lord declares– he who gathers the exiles of Israel: “I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.”

I have long loved the verses ahead of this, talking about the inclusion of foreigners into the family of God, because of my family’s involvement with missions work and also because, as a Caucasian in Japan, I have always been aware of being a foreigner myself. However, this verse indicates that God isn’t through gathering, and that is wonderful news. We have a strong tendency to place limits on the “in crowd,” but God isn’t like that. The statement just ahead of this verse was famously quoted by Jesus Himself when He drove the merchants out of the Court of the Gentiles in the Jerusalem temple. (Matthew 21:13) Sadly few Christians are aware that was the location of that incident. Merchants wouldn’t have dared set up business in the inner areas of the temple, but they took over the area where anyone who was curious about the God of Israel could come to worship, and Jesus wasn’t having any of it. God is insistent about maintaining an open door for all who will enter. The only requirements are repentance and faith. (Mark 1:15) We tend to set up all sorts of check lists for those we will accept, but God is far more direct and accepting. That’s not to say He excuses sin, but everyone has sinned, so we have no more claim than the next guy. Identity politics has absolutely no place in the kingdom of God. Anyone who turns to God in repentance and faith, acknowledging Jesus as Lord, is saved and received as a child of God, period.

I have been both aware of differences and oblivious to them from childhood. When I was just learning to talk, on at least one occasion I identified my mother with the name we called our Japanese housekeeper. (That was probably very painful for my mother.) The first time I saw a Black person, on my first visit to the US just before I turned four, I insisted on speaking Japanese to them, because in my experience to that point, anyone with skin darker than my immediate family was Japanese. I have been both aware of external characteristics and convinced they didn’t really matter. I rejoice in the assurance that before the throne in heaven there will be “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.” (Revelation 7:9) While I’m here, I want to keep adding to that number!

Father, thank You for Your open heart, open arms. We are so prone to close ours! Help me be an accurate expression of Your heart, not overlooking the need for repentance but not excluding anyone who is repentant. May Your words, Your love through me draw many more to You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

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