Prejudice and the Great Commission

I’ve just finished reading Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson. It’s a great book and you should read it. You’ll find out a lot about how many different peoples across the world actually have vestiges of monotheism and hopes of the One True God speaking to them. It’s a lot easier to talk to people about Jesus and the Gospel than a lot of people think.

While the book is not really about prejudice, I did notice throughout the book the author mentions it, and towards the end gets a little further into our human tendency to be prejudiced against people who are not like us. We assume that certain people can’t understand what we understand. We assume that some people don’t know what we think they should know. We think there are people that can’t be gotten through to. Whether we say it out loud or not, we act as if some people are lesser than us in some way. But God so loved the world and wants the world to be saved (John 3:16-17). That means every single person ever. Even and especially the ones we don’t associate with. That’s why Jesus left us with the Great Commission to tell all the peoples of the world about Him!

In the book, the author points out that God had the Great Commission in mind from Genesis. When God blessed Abraham, He added that through Abraham all the peoples of the earth would also be blessed. When Jesus came and went through His earthly ministry, He purposefully went around to a lot of non-Jewish places, frequently finding more faith there than He did among the people who were supposed to know who He was! So when Jesus gave Christians the Great Commission before He left, it wasn’t an afterthought. He had it in mind from the beginning and trained His disciples to do it!

Yet from the early Christians down to us, many of us still struggle with God’s worldwide vision for all peoples. We get comfy in our little churches, thinking it’s enough to just send out money and missionaries when we are also called to witness! While not everyone has to go to a foreign country, we often go on with our lives as if the Gospel is only for us. We don’t talk with our friends, neighbors, classmates, and co-workers about Jesus. And we certainly don’t talk with our strange foreign co-workers and neighbors. They make us nervous with their different ways of looking at and living life. My goodness, what if we actually learned about their culture and language? Isn’t that just for missionaries?

Except we are all called to the Great Commission, and the best way to talk to people about Jesus is in a way they understand. After all, that’s how Jesus talks to people. And as I saw in the book, there are a lot of people who have a better grasp of godly concepts than I do! And it’s often built into their culture! God has left an awareness of Himself in and on all people, and when we find it and point it out, God’s all-peoples purpose will make more sense to everyone involved!

The Great Commission allows no room for racism or prejudice. You are not better than someone else. You are not more spiritually endowed with the ability to understand the Gospel better than someone else. The Gospel wasn’t made to make sense only to certain people. God spoke to you in a way you understand. God talks to every person in a way we each understand, and has called us to do the same. That requires work out of us, but God has equipped us to do what He’s called us to do.

Skin color, culture, language, mode of dress, preferences, and religious and moral practices (on both sides of the equation!) are not to get in the way of The Way. The Gospel is for everyone, be they generally good or generally bad. From the most upstanding free citizen to the most despised dictator, from the “civilized” to the “uncivilized,” from the technologically and scientifically advanced to the less technologically and scientifically advanced, God wants all people to know Him!


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