The salvation of the Gentiles beautifully illustrates the inclusive nature of the Gospel and showcases how the Christian faith can have a transformative impact on the lives of individuals from diverse backgrounds.
Historically, the Jewish people viewed themselves as God's chosen people, holding a distinctive covenant with God. In biblical accounts, the Jews experienced God's presence through diverse means, including encounters with patriarchs like Abraham and Moses. God spoke to them through visions, dreams and tangible manifestations, as exemplified by the burning bush incident with Moses. God granted the Israelites the land of Canaan as a promised inheritance, fulfilling a covenant. This remarkable journey involved extraordinary events, such as the parting of the Red Sea during the Exodus and the conquest of Jericho led by Joshua. Indeed God has played a profound and guiding role in shaping the intricate history of the Jewish people.
In God’s salvation plan, there is a gracious inclusion of the Gentiles. The Bible introduces a profound shift in perspective, emphasising the extension of God's grace and salvation to all, irrespective of cultural or ethnic origins. In this way, the Gentiles, that is, non-Jewish people, are now included in God’s redemptive plan. God handpicked the apostle Paul for a unique and meaningful mission, entrusting him with the significant role of being a messenger to the Gentiles. Paul devoted himself to sharing the gospel, undertaking several journeys in various Gentile cities and regions such as Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, and Rome. Hence, Paul played a crucial role in the expansion of gospel work beyond the Jewish communities. And through Paul, God unfolded the beautiful plan of salvation for the Gentiles.
Within this understanding, there is a beautiful calling for Israel to embody a guiding light, symbolising not only their spiritual journey but also their role in illuminating the path for the Gentiles. This resonates with the divine call for Israel to be a light for the nations, as said in Isaiah 49:6. This is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes in Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour. It is a gospel message that is not limited by cultural or ethnic distinctions but open to all who embrace the Christian faith, reinforcing the inclusive nature of salvation and emphasising the interconnectedness of spiritual journeys.
Salvation of the Gentiles also underscores the universality of God's love that has moved beyond the Jewish roots. The account of Peter's encounter with Cornelius, a Roman centurion, serves as an important moment in recognising the Gentiles' place in God's redemptive plan. Through a divine revelation, Peter acknowledges that God shows no favouritism and declares, "I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right" (Acts 10:34-35).
The complete inclusion of Gentiles has significant implications for the mission of the church. Christians inspired by the universal scope of salvation are now called to engage in evangelism that transcends cultural barriers. This mission aligns with the Great Commission, in which Jesus directs his followers to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). The zeal of the early church to spread the gospel becomes a model for contemporary believers like us to embrace diversity and inclusivity in their outreach.
God has given us many opportunities to realise inclusivity in Singapore. Our government places a strong emphasis on multiculturalism and racial harmony, which is considered crucial for Singapore’s stability and progress. There are also measures to support and uplift disadvantaged individuals, ensuring inclusivity and social cohesion. While these national efforts are commendable, churches in Singapore can play a vital role in providing additional support through community outreach.
God has strategically located us in Henderson for a purpose. There is plentiful potential for us to actively engage in community outreach, to build meaningful connections and to make positive strides. We can attempt to host inclusive events that can cultivate unity. The community service projects we do can address some practical needs for the lower income groups residing in our neighbourhood.
Having targeted programmes to create awareness of mental well-being will be also helpful. Offering crisis counselling to the families at risk can help strengthen social bonds. Technology workshops can empower the community with essential skills. The possibilities are extensive. Ultimately the church becomes a dynamic force, positively shaping and enhancing the community it serves.
Would you consider participating in community outreach efforts to promote inclusiveness?
How might you utilise the unique talents that God has bestowed upon you to make a positive impact and serve our community? - Dns Malar Thomas