Reach the Nations
As a church seeking to live out God’s vision, we’re going to be about what He’s about. God’s mission in the world? To reach the nations. Our Father desires to grow a family unto Himself from every tribe, every tongue, and every nation. We have a missionary God, so we are to be missionary people.
God demonstrated this from the beginning, in the calling of Abraham. He blessed Abraham, from whom “all families on earth would be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Yet God’s people often forgot they were meant to be a blessing – and we struggle with this today, too. Globally, we’re in a season of growing polarization. We erect barriers between people and political groups, even inside the church. But this is not our calling, as kingdom people. We’re called to be a part of God’s unfolding plan to reach the nations. Let’s look at why these barriers exist, and how we move past them in the name of Jesus.
What’s the problem?
The Bible tells us that the dilemma we’re dealing with is alienation. When sin entered the world, we experienced alienation from God (Eph 2:12). We hide, we cover our shame, we wonder if God really loves us. And alienation also happens with each other. This lack of relationship causes many problems in our world, as those who are isolated struggle through life without a support network.
So where do we find hope? Paul writes in Ephesians to a church made up primarily of Gentiles, those who were not Jews. The alienation between Jews and Gentiles was about as bad as it gets; they hated each other. Nothing was going to bring them together – except Christ. Paul alludes to the inner courts of the Jewish temple, where walls prevented Gentiles from entering because they were “strangers” to God’s family (Eph. 2:12). But when Jesus came, He wiped out these walls! He took down everything that was in the way of Gentiles worshipping His Father, even though this flew in the face of long-held cultural expectations. This is our calling as well. If we want to join God on His mission to reach the nations, we’ve got to smash through the barriers that man erects. One way we do this is by remembering that we were “once far off” (Eph. 2:13) — we, too, once lived without the love of Jesus. The Gospel is for everyone. So who do you know is experiencing alienation, from God or from people? Who can you reach out to?
How do we break down the walls?
To reach through barriers of hostility, we need a strength that is found only in Jesus. His blood shed on the cross is the peace that dissolves the divide between nations, and between us and God. Yet this peace comes at a price. It steps in to solve the unsolvable, ready to take a hit – and not retaliate. Jesus demonstrated this on the cross; our sin caused a hostility between He and us, and He stepped in to take the hit, even crying out “Father forgive them.” Christians are people of the cross; we are to be a suffering people, walking into hostility without fighting back. And for those of us with privilege, this peace of Christ allows us to admit our sin (when we’ve pushed people away or used our privilege to get ahead) and move forward in Christlike peace.
If we’re going to reach the nations, we must walk in the peace of Christ. We have the power of the blood of Christ, which enables us to be reconciled to God and with others. Let’s boldly walk through the walls of fear and shame, on this international mission with our Father.
A new way, together.
Jesus breaks down these walls not so that we’ll be united philosophically or politically, but spiritually. In Christ, believers have a deeper union than our political beliefs. What beautiful thing; we can disagree and still be united! It’s so important that we don’t just unite with those who are like us, because that doesn’t send the message of the Gospel to the world. We are called to not be like culture, but to be courageous in seeking the kingdom of God together. Revelation 7:9-10 shares an incredible picture of the family of God: “…a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” This is where we’re headed! Heaven holds every tribe, every nation!
We don’t seek to reach the nations just to be diverse, but because it glorifies God. He created each nation, each language, each culture; a church unified across all barriers of age, race, gender reflects the glory of God. We pray that as a church, people would walk in and think, “They don’t have to be here, but they choose to be here together. What does that say about their God?” The nations are on God’s heart! Let’s reach out. Let’s not settle. Let’s reach over the barriers, in the name of Jesus.
Jesus has killed both the enmity between us and God, and the enmity between us and others. We now have a choice: will we walk in that power, in that peace, or will we not? Will we carry the Gospel through walls, across borders or will we erect walls or simply live in fear and play it safe? May God give us incredible courage to be the church, to reach across borders and boundaries, to bring people, all nations, to Himself.
This is the fifth blog post in a series to accompany our vision series, “For the Glory.” We’ll recap and further unpack each week’s sermon. If you want to listen to each full-length sermon, head to our podcast page. Read along with us each week as we explore God’s vision for Central Community Church. Follow along in Ephesians 2:11-22.