Monday, February 9, 2009
Observing the Nations from Ft. Lauderdale
"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9a)
Today, and for the first time, I am embarking on a journey outside of the continental United States. My lovely bride and I are celebrating our 5th anniversary (although it was technically Sept. 27th) by taking a trip to the Bahamas. Currently, I am sitting in the Ft. Lauderdale, FL airport waiting to board our flight to Nassau. Moments ago, we walked off of the plane and into a crowded airport that was noticeably different from the previous gates we had just recently left in Atlanta, GA. If this difference could be summed up in word one, it would have to be "diversity." Cultural. Socioeconomic. Racial. I find myself studying each passer-by with intrigue. Where is this man from? What is his story? From Jamaican to Caucasian. From Spanish to Indian. Everywhere in between can be found here. And in an instant, my south-Alabama, bible-belt culture seems distant. It seems confined to the airport I left just a few hours ago.
Due to time restraints (and limited internet connectivity), I need to be brief and to the point today (did someone just shout Amen?). Oftentimes, we tend to develop a self-defined, personally confined understanding of the Kingdom of God. Too often, we cannot even see beyond our own church walls and into the surrounding communities outside of our own. Yet, God sees all of us--the whole world. The Kingdom of God extends to all peoples. To all nations. To all tribes. To all peoples and languages. God's redeeming purpose for humanity is not confined to our particular cultural context. Plainly put, I have brothers and sisters in Christ all around the world. It is a wonderful, powerful truth. God's love and salvation extend to the WORLD!
If we are to understand the Great Commission as Jesus commanded, we must be able to see beyond our limited context. Our compassion must reach beyond the stagnant grounds we trod in our every day lives.
Sometimes, I guess it helps to have a few minutes of quiet observation in a Ft. Lauderdale airport. Perspective is often a powerful thing.