This last Sunday at New Life, we studied the events in Esther chapter 8 together. It was a hard chapter to take in, as it outlines Esther’s and Mordecai’s violent counter-edict for the deliverance of the exiled Jews living within the Persian Empire (verse 11). By the end of the chapter, we found all the Jews in the empire rejoicing, feasting, and celebrating over the good news of a new edict that has allowed them to assemble to defend themselves against their enemies (verses 16-17). Even non-Jews in the empire converted and united to the people of God (verse 17).
As we made note of this, we highlighted that the union of non-Jews with Jews in the day of Esther foreshadowed the greater reconciliation and unification of peoples that would one day be accomplished through the cross of Jesus Christ. And this is important, not only because the death of Christ has—through faith—reconciled us to God (Romans 5:1), but also because the death of Christ has likewise—through faith—reconciled Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) to one another, as well.
The Apostle Paul says it this way in his letter to the Christians in Ephesus: “For [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14). Through the cross of Christ, we find true reconciliation and the end of hostility among peoples (Ephesians 2:16). Therefore, it is in Christ Jesus that we “are all children of God through faith” (Galatians 3:26). As such, there is “neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Of course, distinctions are still real. Individual Christians are still male or female, of differing generations and differing heart-languages, and from differing socio-economic classes, ethnicities, and cultures. But in Christ, these distinctions are no longer reasons for separation, division, or even hostility. On the contrary, in Christ we find true unity for all peoples. And since this is true, it is within the church that we find that unity expressed. There is a reason why you could journey on a short-term mission trip to any place in the world and serve people from a completely different culture and still enjoy the blessed unity of worshiping the same Savior together.
Truly, when God promised long ago to bless all peoples through the seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), he had the results of the cross of Christ in mind. Ultimately, the unity we now experience in the church is but a foretaste of the heavenly kingdom, where people of every nation, tribe, people, and language will be gathered to delight in Jesus forever (Revelation 5:9; 7:9).
For these reasons, New Life will always be a place that embraces all peoples. Whether young or old, male or female, above or below the poverty line, abled or disabled, native or foreign, White, Black, or any shade of Brown in between, New Life will always be a home for imperfect people who are seeking to do their best in following Jesus together. The distinctions that separate and divide the world will always be blurred at the cross, because the good news of Jesus is truly for the joy of all peoples.