God's Gathered Peoples
This past Sunday we looked at Luke 17:11-19, a story of Jesus traveling at the margins of two cultures and drawing people towards himself - in effect, centering the margins (a powerful phrase coined by author and social activist bell hooks). What exactly happens when people with diverse backgrounds come together in relationship around Jesus? In Gal. 3:28, we read:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
With that tug that homogeneity always has on us, the gravitational pull toward comfort, it’s tempting to read this verse as a call toward uniformity - to imagine there is some genderless, cultureless, just average or normal version of Christ follower we can all be together. Of course, by normal, we either mean our kind of normal (like us) or the culture’s kind of normal (white and male).
No, this verse shares a vision not of uniformity, but of unity and equality at the foot of the cross. Other places in the Bible make it clear that we bring all of ourselves to Jesus, and that we gather around him together in a delightful parade of diversity! Consider this prophetic picture of the culmination and renewal of all things:
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” - Rev. 7:9-10
What does it mean to you that Jesus invites you to bring all of who you are into relationship with him and into complicated, beautiful relationship with others? What draws you about that picture? What feels difficult? Talk with him about these things.