|Reverend LC Muzembi|
Gentile means a person not belonging to your own religion, or it simply means, not Jewish. When the disciples went about preaching, not only did they preach God, but they imposed on the new believers some of their traditions also, if not all.
Paul said, "For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers" Galatians 1:13-14.
You do not need to change your culture my friend, nor follow some traditions in order to be Christian, He changed you instead. There is no law either, that compels us to live as do the Jews or any other people in order to please God. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jeremiah 13:23 said, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil." A Christian should understand diversity, and become more aware of and accept the differences and commonalities between others’ worlds and your own.
The great commission is "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" Matthew 28:19-20. We’re sent to preach God - that Christ is all, and in all.
But what is happening? We see people with the best intentions sometimes travelling to a society to “help” its people, seeing them as uneducated or backward; essentially inferior. In reality, these missionaries are guilty of cultural imperialism, they deliberately impose their own cultural values on another culture. European colonizers often viewed the people in the lands they colonized as uncultured savages who were in need of European governance, dress, religion, and other cultural practices, and that we also see happening among Christians.
But a high level of appreciation for one’s own culture can be healthy; a shared sense of community pride, for example, connects people in a society. But ethnocentrism can lead to disdain or dislike for other cultures, causing misunderstanding and conflict.
That’s why Paul said, when I saw that James and Peter "walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" Galatians 2:14.
We were sent, not to compel people to live as us, but to preach the gospel, to tell unbelievers that there is God.
Him shall the Gentiles trust!"Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God" Romans 15:5-7.
By God's grace, "the offering up of the Gentiles" is also pure and pleasing to God, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. It is acceptable, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God..." Romans 15:18 - 19.
We Christians have obtained like precious faith, same kind of faith, let’s learn also to welcome each other into the church, the body of Christ, just as Christ has warmly welcomed us; to the glory of God.
What is a welcoming and inclusive church?It’s one that breaks all cultural norms, and embrace diversity.
Diversity includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the group to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups. Things such as age, ethnicity, race, gender, class, culture, as well as religious status.
"For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" Romans 10:11-13.
Jew and Gentile are the same in the Lord, to all those call upon his name, "Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation" 2 Corinthians 5:16-18
All we know is God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, therefore be reconciled, "...brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh" Romans 8:12.
"For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another" Romans 12:4-5.
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another" Romans 15:13-14.
www.muzembi.org - Simple Gospel Summation