Cross Cultural Missions
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:11-12
On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God. Selah
Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush— “This one was born there,” they say. And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her;” for the Most High himself will establish her. The LORD records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” Selah
Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.” Psalm 87
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13
A story about Yahweh, God, the world creator. In Psalm 87, we meet him loving a mountain he made and a city he founded. The city of Jerusalem is the place he made his name known; it’s the place where he allowed David to build him a place of worship. We see here how God loves the mountain where his worshippers gather. What makes the mountain beautiful? It’s not its high, snow-capped peaks. It has no record-breaking height or beautiful waterfalls. Glorious things are spoken of Zion because it is holy: a place dedicated to properly respecting and honoring God. And Jesus told us, even as Zion’s temple stood, that true worship happens now, not only in Jerusalem, but everywhere in spirit and truth. Paul taught us later that our bodies were purchased with a price; so, for you, Christian, your body is no longer your own, but rather a place of worship. In this Psalm, Zion represents that place of true worship.
God is the friend maker. This God knows people from all over the world. He knows people in Rahab & Babylon – places in modern Iran. Our Heavenly Father has Persian friends, born and raised in Iran and beyond. These friends eat their rice with nuts and snack on cucumbers like Americans eat apples. Our God smiles, looks east from Jerusalem, and puts his arm around these friends who call him Father.
He has friends in Philistia, the Mediterranean coastline; we call it Gaza today. They’re very different from his Persian friends, but still, they look like their Heavenly Father because he made them in his image. Their family stories aren’t like the Persians’ family stories; they’ve suffered through many wars, but when those friends look to the one true God, they are fully known through Jesus.
He has friends up the coastline to the North in Lebanon and in Tyre. Down in Africa are more of his friends, specifically in Cush, which is now Ethiopia. These friends aren’t anything like their Mediterranean neighbors.; they surround their churches with trees. God knows they’ve lived their whole lives knowing of war.
These people have existed for their entire natural lives east, west, north, and south of Jerusalem. God has known them and has enjoyed time with his friends.
New Birth Creator
God is the new birth creator. Though these friends were born in these lands worldwide, He gives them new birth. It’s not fiction —it’s true! They have a life and have been given a new one through the Messiah. From all across the world, these people have been born into God’s kingdom; they have been born a second time by the Spirit of God. Here in this Psalm, we see the Heavenly Father giving new birth to people all over the world. Yes, you were born elsewhere; and yes, you were born in my holy city.
God is the citizenship maker. God’s friends were born in the land of his worship! This makes them citizens of God’s city, his holy kingdom. How can people who grew up all over the world be born in God’s kingdom? It takes our loving Father who befriends those who look to him and gives them a new origin story that includes citizenship in his kingdom.
We are birthed in the nations and reborn in the covenant to become citizens of the city God establishes. All of us were born well outside God’s covenant; let us rejoice with our fellow citizens that have been born into our new kingdom. Let us go to all the places of the world and tell them of our friend-making, birth-creating, citizenship-defining Heavenly Father.
- Do you most easily see yourself as a natural-born foreigner to God’s kingdom or as a native-born citizen?
- What is some reasons God might use the image of “new birth” to explain salvation to us?
- Why does the Psalmist have us look east, west, north, and south of Israel?
- What would you love to be part of in reconciling the world to our loving God?