As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously declared at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, in 1968 during his last Sunday sermon before he was assassinated, “We must face the sad fact that at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning when we stand to sing ‘In Christ there is no East or West,’ we stand in the most segregated hour of America.”
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” (Gal. 3:8)
We began this week’s study and emphasis from Genesis 12:3 referring to Abraham’s call to go to a land he knew not of in order that God would make his name great and that through him the world would be blessed. Now, in our text today from Galatians, we find the Apostle Paul making reference to this text from Genesis.
God’s sending (remember the Latin term for this Missio Dei) is everywhere in Scripture. That’s no accident. In fact, I would venture to say that although it is hard to classify the entirety of scripture by one theme, if one could establish such a theme it would be Missio Dei!
We will discuss more about this next week but for now, suffice it to say that the idea of mission in the Bible was never Centripetal, that is, it was never inward focused toward a center. Adam and Eve were placed on the earth to multiply, subdue the earth and have dominion over it. Abraham, whose commission we have been looking at this week was to go (Centrifugal) was not inward focused just to “bless” Abraham so that he could feel good. Rather, it was so that “going” Abraham would be a blessing to the world as God blessed him.
And thus we learn from our text today that it was always in the mind of God to reach the whole world, not just Abraham, not just Israel and not just the disciples. God justified Abraham by faith before the law was ever given, God justified the Jews by faith and faith is the same method used by God today. The gospel of God has always included all the peoples of the earth.
What about our churches? Are we outward focused or inward focused? Are we like a club where we all think and look alike, or are we more like a rescue mission, reaching out to those who are lost, no matter what their nationality or skin color may be? May it be true of us as we gather together tomorrow to worship, that in us “all the nations will be blessed”.