Our church has been going through a series of messages on discipleship. Two weeks ago, I was in the Great Commission text (Matthew 28:16-20) and this week I was in the ascension text in Acts 1:6-11. These both are part of Jesus’ final words to his disciples before he returned to the father in Heaven. They are the marching orders for the church in this age.
I’ve grown up hearing countless messages on these texts. I’ve read books and podcasts, conference plenaries, and seminary lectures. And yet something new struck me about the nature of Jesus’ charge. Perhaps it should have been obvious to me before, but in this season of my life it provokes me even more. It’s this idea: God’s heart is to reveal himself to all peoples and all nations.
The gospel message is global. Think about Jesus’ words. He says in Matthew to “make disciples of all nations” (Mathew 28:20). In Acts he says, “You will go into Jerusalem, Judea/Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
In other words, there is no place on earth where the gospel shouldn’t go. Jesus left no space on the map, no people group who are not worthy of hearing the lifesaving message of reconciliation to by God by faith in Christ. But I think we get this idea as evangelical Christians. We are mission-minded, sending Christians. Of course we need more foreign missionaries, yes.
But my concern is that we are tempted to compartmentalize when it comes to the foreign mission opportunities in our own backyard. It’s not uncommon to hear Christians complain about immigration, about the changing culture of America. A few years ago I had a conversation with a Christian gentleman who expressed to me, in serious tones, his concern that, “In a couple decades, whites will be a minority.” As if this is a problem.
But the gospel calls us to something different. Rather than viewing our changing demographics as a problem, we should welcome them as a “Pentecost moment,” where God is sovereignly bringing the nations to our doorstep. Perhaps today’s undocumented teen will be tomorrow’s Billy Graham to his country of origin.
Diversity is at the very heart of the gospel. Paul describes a coming together of races in his gospel expression to the Galatians (Galatians 3:28.) And in John’s vision of the Kingdom in Revelation, we see at the throne of God people gathered from every language, tribe, and tongue (Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9).
What this tells me is that if I’m to be faithful to the Great Commission, if the Church is to model the values of the Kingdom, I must put aside anything that keeps me from embracing God’s call to gather His people from every language, tribe, and tongue.
Immigration reform can be messy and complicated. Good people disagree on the finite details of exactly how our broken system should be fixed. But any position that fails to reflect God’s heart for all peoples and refuses to see the immigrant as a person created in the image of God falls short of God’s will for his followers.
Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church and the author of several books, including his latest, Real, Owning Your Christian Faith. You can read more of his writings at danieldarling.com.
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