People gather with those who are like themselves. Yesterday I found myself at the poolside of the American Reaction Association, a place build by the American embassy for expats. Up until recently Ugandans weren’t allowed membership. A British couple recently purchased the property and changed the rules, Ugandans allowed.
I am here watching the transition between what were all westerners to a mix of westerners and Ugandans. What I noticed isn’t new or unexpected; people tend to gather with those like themselves. At the left side of the pool a group from Germany, at the end of the pool, a group working for MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) on the right a small group of Ugandans. None engaged the other. Each kept to their own individual group. What is most interesting to me was they were all working for and with Christian organizations within Uganda: Christians who have Christ in common but aren’t mingling with one another.
It made me think of the passage in Galatians where Paul said, “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” He said it this way in Colossians 3:11, “In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, or uncivilized, slave or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” And again in Ephesians we read, “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us… He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.” Ephesians 2: 14-16
Picture it, a Gentile being invited to the table where Jews eat, a slave being served a meal along side his master, a woman sitting with the men. It was outrageous.
Paul said the Spirit unites us into one people. He gives us the capacity to love those we don’t. (Colossians 1:8) So if what Paul said is true, and it is, then why do we not feel comfortable gathering with those not like us? Why don’t we sit at the table with those unlike ourselves?
Ask this question, “What might be missing because we do not?” I would go so far as to ask what of the Gospel, what Jesus accomplished, might not be fully seen because of it?
Lets be honest, sitting with those we aren’t comfortable with is going to take effort and courage. It’s going to take the power of the Spirit to bring unity and love. It’s going to take time, perhaps generations but shouldn’t we break the barrier of sameness and in doing so unleash the power of the Gospel?
Ahhh, smell that?
It’s the fragrance of the gospel wafting through the air.