Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bringing Other Sheep into the Fold

Jesus prays in John 17 that he has other sheep and they will come and become one fold. The other sheep is often interpreted as the Gentiles or non-Jewish nations. Many nations will become the sheep of Jesus and together with Jewish believers become one fold. The prayer of Jesus is being answered as we see many nations beginning with Paul's ministry in the 1st century until today in the 21st century. But we may do well to consider that this Jesus' prayer is still being said and in many countries await fulfilment as we see the trend of churches dominated by one culture or one ethnic group (the Greek word, ethnos means a nation or a people/grouping). We see churches dominated by a single race even in places where society in general is multi-racial and multi-cultural like those in Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore as much as Malaysia as Robert Kaplan has noted consists of a convergence of civilizations. In many instances, Singapore is even more multi-cultural compared to Malaysia as the former being a city-State has within a small space of 700 sq kms in all as many as 20 different races intermingling, jostling one another for space, working, playing and living side by side. Why are then churches so monocultural?
I have seen churches of mostly Chinese with one or two Indians. It hardly speaks of multiculturalism or the shape of a local church as Scripture sees it. We do well to remember why the majority of Jews were rejected as Matt 21 makes clear that "the kingdom of heaven shall be taken away from you and given to a nation (ethnos in Greek) that will bear fruits. This new nation is the church where all nations find their place and become one nation, one people and one fold under the great Shepherd of the flock. We do well to insist that a local church should be represented with as many nations or races as possible to reflect what Christ has done on the cross, having broken down the division, nullifying the commandments that once supported separation and segregation, but now in Christ God has made two peoples, Jews and Gentiles into one new man. The other sheep must be brought in, other races than our own and when they come in they will become one fold under Jesus Christ, the king of all nations.

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