Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2: 10

 

God did not intend for people to be divided. At first we were close to Him in everyway possible, and we were intimately connected to the world where we lived. Although the duration of humanity’s story that has been lived out in the full expression of God’s design is very short, I believe that it, in conjunction with the descriptions of the restoration models that God’s word grants to us, demonstrates clearly the fact that everything that separates and divides people has been caused by our own willful departure from God’s desire for relationship with us. This has resulted in violence against people and against creation, illness and pain, untimely death of all sorts, and the oppression of some in order to elevate others.

 

As we are born into this world, we are at best a tribe. There are far too many divisive issues in each of our birth legacies for us to be anything more than that. We are bred to hate and to separate. These characteristics are in our DNA. The great universal divisors of people such as gender and race are, in fact, significant parts of what is beautiful and even sacred in the manner that God imparted His image into us. However, our sinful hearts have perverted these God-image aspects of humanity in order to find cause for hatred, superiority, and oppression. All of this leads us further down the death spiral of alienation from each other and from God.

 

However, God does not relent in His plans and desires. He intended for humanity to be a great, singular people who would live together celebrating our diversity while benefiting all with the peaceful relational harmony that comes solely from its source in Christ. This is the hope that is granted to us by God’s unsurpassed mercy. Seeking to comprehend, view, and appreciate others in this manner is our individual and collective calling from God. As we value, engage with, and walk into life together with people who are unlike us and set aside the artificial differences of race, gender, nationality, and wealth, we are taking the steps that are needed in order to leave behind the tribal hut of our birth and enter into the glory of God’s kingdom.

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2: 10

 

In the United States it seems that we do not understand the concept of being a people as well as we might. We are such a widely diverse gathering of individuals who have racial and cultural backgrounds that have become a collection of most of the stories that are told of people groups from every corner of the world. In Peter’s time the world that he knew was beginning to become a little like ours, but the idea of being a people, especially the thought of being a select and a specifically set apart people who were designated by God for this position, was still clearly understood. Yet, even then, this concept of a separate people that was based upon nationality was false.

 

God’s intent was much greater than that. His desire was and continues to be to see all of humanity brought together. This was His creation design, and He has not changed the plan in the slightest from the dawn of creation to this day. God came personally into this world in Christ; the Messiah, Savior, Reconciler, and Lord; in order to bring about the destruction of all that divides. He is also the means through which the damage, the brokenness, of sin is healed. In Christ we people can find the commonality that bridges all of the fears that cut through our humanity with a jagged knife of division. In Christ there is race, nationality, gender, and culture. However, in Christ none these need to keep us apart. In Christ these distinctives are a part of the story of who we are, and they can be a part of the conversation that we have in the process of growing together in unity.

 

In Christ we are all a people. A singular, collective gathering of souls that resides in every corner of our world and that has a history as long and as richly diverse as the story of all of humanity. In the body of Christ there is no longer any reason to fear others, to separate from them, or to isolate ourselves from those who are different. Christ has granted to each of us the mercy of His grace. He demands that we do the same for others. As God has gathered us from that far away place of isolation into which we were born and given us a dwelling place in His presence, so we should reach out to embrace the various people of our world and through our lives show them the blessed mercy of Christ’s gift of restoration.