Christ’s dismantling of the wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles was revolutionary; when put into practice it would abolish many of the divisions that fracture and fragment human relationships and community. Paul made this clear not just to the Ephesian believers but everywhere he ministered. To the church in Galatia, he said: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:27–28). Similarly, he assured the church in Colossae that “here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11). All of these markers of identity in the natural world are superseded by our new identity in Christ and the kingdom of God, where we are bound together in a new humanity.
The multiethnic evangelizing and disciple making and the multiethnic churches that resulted once the church broke out of its Jewish cocoon show us the outworking of the Great Commission in New Testament times (and for a while afterward). These churches were an important part of why the early Christian movement grew so fast and so strong. They were communities of love in which the barriers of ethnicity, social class, economic status, and literacy that normally divide people had somehow been transcended. That was unheard of and stimulated curiosity and openness to explore what was behind such a wonderful reality.
In today’s world of division, strife, and hatred, Jesus’ command and commission to make disciples from people of all ethnic groups is more important than ever. When the world sees communities of Christians living as the new humanity and loving one another across the barriers that normally separate people, it will take notice. Opportunities to explain the reason for that love will open up, and the message of Christ’s redeeming love can be shared, as well as the destiny of all who trust and follow Christ and will one day become part of that
great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9–10)
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