Pastor Jonathan's Monday Reflection:
The apostles lay their hands on the Samaritan believers and pray. The new believers are filled with the Holy Spirit as a grand welcome into a new reality with Jesus (Acts 8:9-25). It is meaningful for the Samaritans. It is meaningful for the apostles. And it is meaningful for us, even today on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to recognize how the kingdom of Chirst is expanding and made up of all ethne, all nations.
We have a tendency to huddle in groups based off of some affinity. Ethnicity, education, politics, economics... you name the classification or label. But when the Spirit moves and the church is formed, not only in Acts but in the history of the church, unlikely and diverse peoples are made family. The church has been terrible at celebrating this reality and pursuing it in the last thousand years... but the descriptive example of the burgeoning church is there for us to see and emulate.
In Christ we know the dividing walls are broken down and old labels of identity no longer apply. Actually our diversity is meant to reveal and vindicate the message of Christ, with something of deeper value bringing together former enemies and those of varied backgrounds and origins.
How can we live this gospel reality more openly in our day? First we live for repentance. To turn from thinking that has us qualifying participation in the kingdom and valuing any person less than others. Then let the truth of Christ’s claim over you, and others, motivate you to love as you have been loved. Value all image bearers and give them a welcome that smells of Christ.
Find a group of believers to work out practical steps we can take in our neighborhoods, but start with seeing your neighbors. Notice them, their struggles and desires. And engage with them. Help them. Share Jesus with them.
A day is coming when before us will be arrayed people from every nation, every tongue, all glorifying Christ as part of the bigger kingdom. May we get a taste for this future today.