Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Christians are sometimes criticized for being exclusive in one way or another. Lately I’ve heard a lot of complaints about a lack of inclusion, meaning inclusion of different ethnic and cultural groups or possibly of those with minority racial or sexual profiles compared to the larger culture. Sometimes those critiques are valid, sometimes they aren’t. No doubt there have been times of tension, and there are many who would say the tensions are more severe now than at some other times in history.
Our Epistle reading from Isaiah 66 can help us understand the exclusivity of the Christian life. It is to be exclusively dedicated to the God of the Bible who has redeemed the world to himself. There’s no question about that. Christianity is not about a particular cultural norm. It’s about the way God has reconciled people to himself through Jesus, God the Son, taking the sin of the world upon himself.
In the last days, God is planning to gather those who have believed him, out of every nation where they may happen to be, to himself. Isaiah 66 pictures them flocking to Jerusalem, though it seems there are so many people that the city we know as Jerusalem would not be adequately large. He has made these people to be holy, dedicated to him, a purified remnant of the world, set apart for his service.
God’s gathered people, set apart for His worship, will serve him in holiness through the ages. They come from every age, from every nation, from every culture, from every language. They are unified not by any of those human characteristics which we like to use to sort ourselves. They are gathered in Christ. This is what God’s kingdom on earth should look like as well. Although our earthly communities tend to consist mostly of people who look and act in similar ways, and the local church congregation will probably mirror that to a great extent, it is the relationship with Jesus that matters. He is the one wo gathers us together.
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