Isaiah 56:7 “These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
This is an enormously important Scripture that Jesus Himself quoted when He drove the merchants out of the Court of the Gentiles in the temple in Jerusalem. (Mark 11:17) It is important because we human beings have a nasty tendency toward xenophobia and discrimination. That comes from being self-centered and from thinking that life, and God, is a “zero-sum game,” that is, that if someone else has more, that means I have less. We have such trouble grasping that God is infinite and we live in an expanding universe. We wouldn’t have any trouble with this if we understood love in the first place. Parents quickly discover that as they have more children, loving the second child doesn’t mean they love the first one less, it simply multiplies the love. Love is never a zero-sum game, and God Himself is love. (1 John 4:8) We exclude others because we don’t grasp that God’s supply of love, and for that matter, all His other resources, is unlimited. This is a powerful basis for unity, but the devil is dead set against our having the unity that God desires for us. (John 17:20-21) Right now in many places around the world, certainly including the US, there are people actively engaged in the politics of division, dividing so that they may conquer. All who know God must stand firm against that, proclaiming that God’s house is for all nations and people-groups.
This is something we deal with constantly, as Caucasians ministering in Japan. We have the additional challenge of dealing with missionaries from other Asian nations, whose culture is neither American nor Japanese. Frankly, friction is common. However, God allows that friction specifically to wear down our rough spots, and to teach us that His love and His plans are greater than we can imagine. We have a neighborhood outreach barbecue planned for the 25th, and with four cultures represented, the lessons can be pretty intense. I am discovering that my heart isn’t nearly as big as I thought it was! I need to recognize, on the deepest level, that our very differences are things that God is going to use to expand His family, His kingdom. I need to be energized by the expectation of God doing good things, and allow Him to pour His love and grace through me, so that I won’t get in the way of what He is doing.
Father, thank You for this very timely Word. Thank You for getting me through the video conference last night, and for what You have planned for today as well. I don’t enjoy planning, and the very need for it is stressful for me. Help me rest, relax, and rejoice in You, in all that goes on today, throughout this week, and in every detail of the 25th and what follows from it. Help me indeed expect great things of You and offer myself to You without reservation, so that Your will may be done on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!