Amazing God, You created me, and Your Son has recreated me. Today, may Your Spirit develop this new life in me.
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1-7
How diverse is the church you attend? What sort of people do you hang out with there? Are they like you? Or different from you?
When it functions as it should, the gospel of Christ brings vastly different people together. This is not always easy, yet the Christian church was never meant to be monolithic or monocultural. Paul, writing to a church in Rome which is divided by cultural identity – Jew versus Gentile – gets back to basics. He reminds his readers that, while the gospel of Christ represents the fulfillment of Jewish messianic expectations (v 3), God’s promises were always intended to bring blessing to the whole earth. Jesus Christ is now Lord over all (v 4).
This is where Paul comes in: his apostleship means God has given him special leadership in the church, to call all the Gentiles to faith and obedience (v 5). This is difficult for Jewish believers to adjust to. As a people they had become used to being separate from the ‘contaminated’ Gentiles who neither obey the Torah (the Old Testament Law) nor follow its practices. But the gospel eliminates these barriers. Christ ushers in a new age of redemption and reconciliation for all of us. Very different people are to become the one people of God.
Jesus was always upsetting the religious leaders of his day by hanging out with prostitutes, lepers and those considered ‘unclean’. Pray that God will help you avoid a ‘cultural Christianity’ by embracing those who are different from you.
Lord, may Your strength sustain me, Your wisdom instruct me, Your Spirit lead me, and Your shield protect me. Deliver me from cultural Christianity.