Luke 4:18-21 NIV “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
His claim about its fulfillment almost got him killed on the spot. Why? Because he applied this promise of radical healing and freedom not only to Israel, but also to the surrounding nations.
John 10:16 NIV I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
In fact, he subtly suggested that Israel’s hard-heartedness toward him would cause them to forfeit this promise altogether.
Luke 4:24-30 NIV “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. (emphasis mine)
Whether it was ethnocentrism, nationalism, or something else all together, they could not handle this message. Today, we also are tempted to limit the benefits of God’s kingdom to people who look like us, share our nationality and our status. It is surprising how easily we contort the gospel so that it fits into our worldview, which supports our particular way of living, thinking, acting and feeling. But Jesus blows up the boundary lines we draw: God’s blessings are for all people. Who do we feel tempted to exclude? To judge or look down upon? To avoid and ignore? Jesus is announcing a day of the Lord’s favor where precisely those who are poor, blind and enslaved (both physically and spiritually) are invited to experience God’s grace, life, love, justice and mercy. That offer is for every person who has not accepted it. For those who have, we must ask: How can we, as Christ’s body, show his love to such people in our lives?
“Diversity is the one true thing we have in common. Celebrate it every day.”
Unity in diversity is more beautiful and more powerful than the unity of uniformity. When their diversity unites in worship to God, the beauty of their praise will echo the depth and greatness of God’s beauty far more than if the redeemed were from only a few different people groups.
Psalm 96:3-4 NIV Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. (Emphasis mine)
The beauty and power of praise that will come to the Lord from the diversity of the nations are greater than the beauty and power that would come to him if the chorus of the redeemed were culturally uniform.
In the prayer model that Jesus described to His disciples He said;
Matthew 6:9-10 NIV “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
That kingdom has no geographic boundaries.
The last thing that Jesus said to his disciples was to go into to all the world not to a single nation or special group of people, and make disciples who would become citizens of God’s Kingdom.
Matthew 28:18-20 NIV Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”