Luke 13:29-30 “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
Several Old Testament prophets speak of the scattered Jews being returned to their homeland, but this goes far beyond that. This ties in exactly with the verse I wrote about on March 4th, about many being called and few chosen. (Matthew 22:14) God’s invitation goes out all over the world, with no geographical limitations at all. It’s amazing how much trouble we have getting that through our heads! The average American Christian can hardly imagine that a Kachin or Karen tribesman of Burma might be a better Christian than they are! We go by all sorts of external factors in evaluating people, when the fact that God looks on the heart is one of the fundamental truths of the Bible. (1 Samuel 16:7) It is a statistical fact that there are more “3rd World” Christians today than there are “1st World.” We all tend to have an unconscious bias that people like us are the “good guys,” when our definitions of “like us” and “good guys” are both unreliable! That’s where the last being first, and vice versa, thing comes in. We need to ask God to open our eyes to see people as He does, and then allow Him to do that. It can actually be quite shocking! A recent example played out on the world stage, as someone we would classify as an immoral braggart became president of the US, and then turned around and enacted the most faith-friendly administration in US history. Those who were not faith-friendly couldn’t stand that, and mounted unprecedented opposition. They have had seeming success, but what is really happening is that the veneers with which they covered their activities previously are being peeled back, and their true motives are being exposed. In response, we need to apply genuinely Biblical standards, rather than cultural ones, first to ourselves and then to those around us. We need to be sure to take our own place at the feast in the kingdom of God, and not block others from doing so by our own prejudices.
I certainly didn’t expect to get political when I started, but this issue goes far beyond politics. The devil seeks to divide, and I must not cooperate with that effort. I must remember that we are all in need of repentance, dependent on the grace of God. I’m not to use that to excuse sin, in myself or in others, but I am to remember that the cross of Christ overrides absolutely everything else. I don’t usually pay much attention to the ecclesiastical calendar, but this is Lent. I too need to meditate on how intentional Jesus was in dying for me, and allow that grace to flow over and through me to all who will receive it. I too am a product of human culture, both American and Japanese, and I need to let God remove the blinders created by culture, to see and love people as He does.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. I pray that I would be more and more effective in communicating the glorious reality of redemption and resurrection in this season, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!