Zephaniah 3:9 “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples,
that all of them may call on the name of the Lord
and serve him shoulder to shoulder.
Once again we have God stating that He cares about the people of every nation, every ethnicity, on earth. The Japanese says, “They will pray in the name of the Lord and serve Him as one (in complete unity).” That’s a pretty awesome image! Reading this, however, many Christians fail to realize that this refers to them, because they are not genetic descendants of Abraham. However, it actually foreshadows Jesus prayer for the unity of believers, expressed so movingly in John 17. It’s interesting how everyone tends to gravitate to a feeling of entitlement when it comes to God’s care and love. We forget that God created everything, that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. It is entirely true that Jesus would have died for a single individual, but that is true for every individual. The question is never God’s love, but our response to Him. However, as Paul so clearly stated in Romans 10:14, we can’t respond rightly to Him if we don’t know about Him. As again Paul said clearly in Romans 1:20, God has left plenty of hints about Himself throughout His creation to guide people in turning to Him, but the details of the atoning work of Christ on the cross are beyond human imagination, so we have to be told about them. That is the purpose and privilege of evangelism. We get to be “midwives” for the birth of more brothers and sisters in Christ, people who are equal with us as recipients of the grace of God, so that they may serve Him alongside us for His glory.
This is something I have had to grow into on a personal level. Growing up as a Caucasian in Japan, I never had any problems with God making no distinctions of value among races and nations, but I tended to think I was in a special class personally. How stupidly conceited! I hadn’t grasped the truth of the rather ironic statement, “You are special and unique, just like everyone else on earth.” Everyone is a person for whom Jesus died, but somehow I felt like I was “a cut above” other people. That led to a lot of problems! God in His grace called me down on it, and only after that did I start to share the Gospel on a personal level. The phrase in the NIV, “shoulder to shoulder,” doesn’t have quite the same nuance as the “as one” of the Japanese, but it does bring out the element of equality, and that is vital. I am not to neglect or denigrate the gifts that God has placed in me, but I am never to think they make me more valuable in God’s eyes than my neighbor. Everyone who knows Jesus Christ as Lord is my equal in every way that is important, and it is my privilege to bring more and more people into that status – as that privilege becomes theirs, when they come to that relationship with Him.
Father, thank You for this reminder, and for the incredible privilege of sharing Your Gospel. Thank You that my daughters arrived safely from the US last night. I pray that their time here would fulfill all of Your purposes for it, not only in our family but in drawing others closer to You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!