And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant-these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered. Isaiah 56:6-8 (NRSV)
Some of us have known the privilege of making a friend from a wildly different culture, nationality or unfamiliar ethnicity, and finding that we share a great deal in common. It is one of those “happy accidents” of God when we meet up with a “brother from another mother” so to speak. Those sorts of friendships broaden our horizons and enrich our own human experience.
Much has been said in social and political discourse of late that pits human against human in petty and pointless arguments about skin color, nationality, ethnicity, or race, or heritage. The fact is that humans sin and fail each other for many reasons. The reality is that none of us can erase what oppressions our ancestors suffered at the hands of others, nor can we take back what suffering or unfair treatment our ancestors imposed upon others. Throughout history groups of humans have enslaved and oppressed other groups of humans. At one point or another should we look back far enough, we will find both oppressors and oppressed in our family histories, regardless of what ethnic groups or cultures we come from.
The only positive, God-honoring action we can take in response to racial and cultural hate is to love each other and treat each other respectfully NOW. The oppression and unfairness and discrimination can stop with us. We are all human, created in the image of God, like it or not.
In this passage the prophet Isaiah is speaking about the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. In Christ ALL humans are welcome to participate in God’s kingdom, regardless of nationality or ethnic background, or skin color, regardless of their mistakes, or their family’s mistakes, or their pasts.
God is gathering ALL people to His kingdom. He is calling people who we disagree with. He is calling people who may currently be our enemies. He is calling anyone who will hear Him.
Are our hearts also houses of prayer, in which all who seek God and His kingdom are welcome?