56:1 This is what the Lord says:
and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
and my righteousness will soon be revealed.
2 Blessed is the one who does this—
the person who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
and keeps their hands from doing any evil.”
3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”
And let no eunuch complain,
“I am only a dry tree.”
4 For this is what the Lord says:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose what pleases me
and hold fast to my covenant—
5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls
a memorial and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that will endure forever.
6 And foreigners who bind 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 without desecrating it
and who hold fast to my covenant—
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations.”
8 The Sovereign Lord declares—
he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
“I will gather still others to them
besides those already gathered.”
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The Bible teaches us the importance of having a social concern for others (v.1). What does it mean when Bruce Waltke says that “the righteous are willing to disadvantage oneself for the sake of the community, whereas the wicked advantage themselves by disadvantaging the community”?
- What are some examples of how the concept above could be applied?
- Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong? What was that like for you?
- When people are different from us, we usually try to avoid them. How does Christianity help us to welcome them and include them?
- What would including others look like at church? What about at work? What about in your neighborhood?
- Knowing that you are accepted by God (especially when you feel like you don’t deserve it in any way) is such a powerful truth. How does that make you feel right now? Explain.
Outsiders Brought In
*This is a transcript is generated from the sermon audio. This document has not been edited for spelling, grammar, or exactness.
And then the rest of us, you can track down a Bible. We’re going to be in Isaiah chapter 56. There are Bibles in the book racks and the chairs in front of you. In the Bibles we have here, Isaiah chapter 56 is on page six three six. 636. I’m going to read it. Then we’ll pray and we’ll get to work. And Isaiah chapter 56.
This is what the Lord says maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand, and my righteousness will soon be revealed. Blessed is the one who does this, the person who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it and keeps their hands from doing evil. Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say, the Lord will surely exclude me from his people. And let no eunuch complain, I am only a dry tree. For this is what the Lord says to the eunuchs who keep my Sabbath, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant, to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever, and foreigners who bind 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 without desecrating it, and who hold fast to my covenant. These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar. From my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Sovereign Lord declares, and he who gathers the Sovereign Lord declares, he who gathers the exiles of Israel, I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.
Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for your word. We pray that by Your spirit, through Your word, you would minister to each and every one of us. We pray, Lord, that you would give us an openness to the things that you want to accomplish in and through us. We pray that we would become a community of faith that displays the beauty of Your gospel message. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen. Amen.
Well, we have started a new series called Gospel Culture. And what we’re talking about is the fact that we don’t just want the gospel message to be something that we adhere to mentally, where we say, yeah, we believe that, we prescribe to that, we have it in our sermons. We’ve got it on our statement of beliefs on the website. We don’t just want the gospel message to be stuck there. We actually want it to become a feature of how we interact with each other. We want it to become a part of our culture. And so last week we started the series and I got a lot of positive feedback, a lot of atta boys. A lot of we’re in this. We love this. This week, however, I expect a very different experience. When the Lord was preaching — Jesus Christ, when he was preaching on these subject matters, his first sermon, by the way, it didn’t go so hot. He started talking about these concepts and the crowd originally was like, yeah, we’re in. We’re on board. We love this stuff. This sounds wonderful. And then he gets to the application and it gets tricky, and they go, oh, we don’t like this at all. And they actually drag him out to the edge of the town to throw him off of a cliff. So that was his experience. We’ll see how it goes today and let’s get after it. Four different things. When we think about gospel culture from Isaiah 56, four different things. Social concern is a feature of gospel culture. Secondly, rest is a feature of gospel culture. Inclusion and mission. Social concern, rest, inclusion and mission. Let’s get after it.
A gospel culture involves being socially concerned for others. Look at verse one. This is what the Lord says maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. All of this in the background. You’ve got that coming. Salvation. You’ve got the nearness of the Lord’s salvation, which is close at hand, and his righteousness that will soon be revealed. In the meantime, we have work to do. We’ve got things that we need to do in this world. But what it says here is that we need to maintain justice and do what is right. We need to live in a way that pays attention to the needs of the world around us, and we actually need to take action on it. We need to be socially aware and socially concerned. An Old Testament scholar named Christopher Wright, he was studying this concept and these two words in Hebrew that we find here in our text in verse one. And he says wherever these things show up, he’s studying it and looking at the various ways that the Bible uses it. And he says wherever this shows up, the translation is best understood as social justice, which me saying that red flags go up for some of you. You’re like, oh, boy, Cory is the woke joke now, like, this dude is going that direction. I didn’t know that’s what we were turning out for. But Chris Wright was acknowledging that the ethic of the Old Testament demands that we would pay attention to the social needs of people around us. When he wrote that, by the way, it was published in 2004 it was in his book Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, which was actually a reworking of his doctorate material from the 70s. But he noticed if you read the Scriptures and you consider what is required of followers of God, there is a dynamic where people who are following God are looking around, and they’re noticing when people are vulnerable and in need. And the Old Testament ethic is such that you move toward that and you help. Bruce WaltKe, another Old Testament scholar, came up with the same conclusion. He noted these two Hebrew words and their usage in Old Testament and how they come to mean that you would pay attention and be socially concerned with the needs of others, especially the vulnerable, the four different classes of people widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And when you’re following God, you would move toward them and help them. And he actually came up with this conclusion. This is from his Proverb’s commentary, which we learned a lot from in our recent series, but he said this here’s the difference between two people. The one who maintains justice and practices righteousness and those who don’t, they actually get labeled in the Bible. The person who practices righteousness and maintains justice is called “the righteous.” The one who fails to do that is called “the wicked.” And he puts it like this, “The righteous advantage the community, even at the expense of disadvantaging oneself. The wicked, on the other hand, the wicked advantage themselves by disadvantaging the community.” So, the righteous person would look out there and go, okay, there’s a need in the world. There’s a need of an individual in front of me or somebody at church, and I see that need. And what I’m willing to do is disadvantage myself to try to meet that need. I’m going to try to show you what that would look like in just a moment. But let me show you this idea from scripture. I bumped into this in the One-Year Bible a few weeks back. It’s from First Samuel, chapter 25. It’s this idea of social concern and how it plays out in real time. But at this point in the story, in one Samuel 25, David, David versus Goliath, King David eventually. At this point in the story, he’s a military leader, and he’s displaced. He’s traveling around, going to various locations because Saul wants to kill him. But he’s still a very successful and well thought of and well-regarded leader. So, he’s out in this area. And in one Samuel 25, we find out that one of his neighbors is shearing sheep. This is Nabal. The Calebite is shearing sheep. And David sends a message to him saying, okay, you are a wealthy business person. You’ve got herds of sheep. We’ve done some favors for you. We’ve practiced social concern for you, so we’re asking that you would return the favor. And that’s the request that he sends by way of delegation. He says, your men and your herds were protected by my men. We were encamped around you, and no raiders were able to get in there. No harm came your way. We protected you. We were like a wall around you. So given that it is sheep shearing season and you have so much to celebrate. Do us a favor and find whatever you can to bless us, to just return a little bit of that favor. And Nabal says, “Who’s? David. Who’s the son of Jesse? There are all kinds of servants these days who are breaking away from their master. Why should I take my food and my provisions and give them away to somebody that I don’t know?” And he sends the delegation away. I’m not doing that. I’m not helping you out here. And when David finds that out, he says, okay, guys, suit up. We’re going to war. We’re going to go fight this guy, because we have done this guy a solid by helping him out, by protecting him, and he cannot return the favor. That’s not okay. Now, the servants are a little bit concerned about how this is going to transpire. So they go to the wife, Abigail, and they say, hey, this is what happened. David sent his men. His men guarded us when we were out in the wilderness, and they took care of us, and they came and they were asking for provisions. And Nabal said, no way. I’m not giving any out. And they said, he’s a wicked man. His servants are saying he’s wicked. Nobody can even talk to him. Abigail takes matters into her own hands. She provides a meal. She gets provision. She meets David and his men as they’re approaching, and she says, Please, my Lord, pay no attention to Nabal, for his name means fool, and he is a wicked man. Okay, so I’m reading this story and I’m going, what’s going on here? Well, what’s happening is there’s an assumption. There’s an assumption in the Ancient Near East that there’s a social concern that is reciprocated. You got one group of individuals, they’re willing to help somebody else out, even though there was no request there. And then when they had a need, they said, hey, could you please help us out? And the expectation was that he ought to do that, and when he doesn’t do it, it’s described as wicked. Now, here’s the problem that I have with the story. I was reading it, and I agree with Nabal. I read the story because I’m a Westerner and I’m an individual. And I look at this and I go, yeah, he’s not wrong. Why should we take what we have and give it away to a stranger? He’s not wrong here. But the Bible is pushing us to consider this when we fail to concern ourselves with others. It’s not just selfish, it’s wicked. I don’t like that. I’m judging by your scowling faces, many of you don’t either. But what the Bible demands is that we would be socially aware of the needs around us, and we would be willing to disadvantage ourselves for the sake of others. Let’s think through this in what it looks like at church. When we come to church, most of us come and we forget to take off our consumer hat. So, we come in here and we’re like, okay, what’s the church going to do for me? And then we evaluate. We go, okay, what’s going on with the kid’s ministry? Is that serving my family well? Or we go, okay, I like that song, or I don’t like that song, or I like that sermon, or I don’t like that sermon. And we come in as consumers and we’re just evaluating things, and then we see a new person. We’ve got some here today. We see them and we go, okay, I don’t recognize them, but that’s not my problem because I’m here for me. And so I see them and I don’t know them, but isn’t that what we pay Cor to do? Like, can’t he reach out to them and have a conversation or whatever? And don’t we have a team that does this, like a guest services team? Can it be their job? How is that my problem? And what we’re communicating [to that newcomer] is you’re not worth my time and my effort. You’re not worth the disruption of my Sunday morning so that you would feel more at ease here. It’s the opposite of a gospel culture. A gospel culture would actually be a bunch of people who are socially concerned, and we look over and we go, hey, there’s a new person or a new family, and they’re not connected yet. So I’ve got work to do then. Rebecca McLaughlin wrote an article about this in 2019, and it’s called “Make Sundays Uncomfortable.” And it’s just three points and it’s beautiful. The first one is, an alone person in our gathering is an emergency. If somebody shows up and you recognize they’re new, they don’t know people, they’re not connected yet, that’s an emergency. You drop everything and you deal with that. The second point is your friends can wait. You’ve got their number, call them after church. I know we love the ability to connect on Sunday mornings, but sometimes there’s something more important that’s going on here. And the last one is introduce newcomers to others. So if we’re going to be a gospel culture that’s socially aware of the needs around us, we’re going to look and go, okay, there are people here that if I’m going to maintain justice and practice righteousness, I’m going to disadvantage myself in this moment to try to bless and serve somebody else. And I’m happy to do that because that’s what the gospel demands from me. There are lots of different applications. I just gave you one. But I think in every way we ought to be known as those sort of people. So every week we do this, we send you out, we say, you’re not dismissed. You’re sent go and be the church. And I hope that wherever you go, you take these things and you still live them out. So you’re maintaining justice and you’re practicing righteousness. And that way people who are at your workplace they actually feel that from you. But if you’re selfish and you go to work and people experience you as only concerning yourself with you, then when you share that gospel message, they’re not able to hear it with the same clarity because they don’t consider you to be a good news person. You see, we have to learn how to maintain justice and practice righteousness in every sphere of life. And if we do that, we will be moving toward what we’ve been calling a gospel culture. Gospel culture involves being socially concerned.
Secondly, gospel culture creates a place of rest. Verse two blessed is the one who does this. The person who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it and keeps their hands from doing any evil. Blessed is the one who’s living this stuff out, who’s keeping the Sabbath without desecrating it because they are living in the way of the Lord. They are choosing to take a day of the week and setting it aside for the purposes of God. And it’s not just that they’re following the rules. That’s certainly a part of it that God tells us that we have a day for rest and these people are willing to do it. But it’s also an expression of what we’ve been talking about. It’s an expression of concern for others. When we take a break, especially in the ancient Near East, what that would mean is a lot of people are getting a break. A lot of people are experiencing relief from work. And that’s a beautiful thing. And so this idea of Sabbath, it travels all the way through this passage here. It repeatedly shows up. And a feature of it is it is an expression of practicing social concern. But another feature of it is it is a declaration of commitment to God. When somebody is practicing the Sabbath, it’s obvious. We were on vacation down in Orlando. It was a long time ago, and I was given the responsibility of getting lunch for everyone. So I go to a place and I’m sitting in the drive through and I’m waiting and I’m waiting and I’m like, if you know my personality, I’m not like a pushy person, so I’m like, I should honk, but I don’t want to honk. And so I’m just sitting in the line like, this is the slowest service I’ve ever received. And then it dawned on me. This is Chickfila and it’s Sunday and nobody’s here. And it’s like, okay, however you feel about that, the Sabbath keeping of that organization is obvious. They have a commitment that other people acknowledge. So when you keep the Sabbath, it is a form of saying, I am devoted to the Lord. I design my week to reflect my commitment to Him and to his ways. So Sabbath keeping is beautiful for all kinds of different reasons. But one of the things that the Sabbath repeatedly does throughout Scripture is it foreshadows something incredible. The writer to the Hebrews and the Apostle Paul in Colossians chapter two, both of those different passages, hebrews four and Colossians two, they tell us the Sabbath is a foreshadowing of the rest of God. It’s an invitation for people to step into something that feels like relief. And that’s how the Lord invited people. In Matthew, chapter eleven, he said, come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. And around here, we want that. We want people to come in here and to not feel like, okay, the church has all kinds of expectations on me of the work that I need to do. And it feels like striving, like we’re always trying to do something, we’re always trying to get something done. You’re always needing me for something. No, we want the gospel culture to be so real that sometimes you walk in here on a Sunday morning and you just sigh. It’s just a relief because you’ve stepped into an environment where you are free to rest. Gospel culture creates an environment of rest. Our church then ought to feel like a preview of that coming attraction of the Lord’s permanent rest for us. So may we be a place where that provision is being experienced, where people are coming in, they’re saying, okay, this is a place where I can let down my guard and I can be real and I can just be, and people will love me in that place. Gospel culture is a place of rest.
Thirdly, gospel culture is a place of inclusion. Look at verse three. Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say, the Lord will surely exclude me from his people, and let no eunuch complain I am only a dry tree. So you’ve got two classes of people here the outsider in terms of a foreigner, a gentile non Jew and a eunuch, somebody who’s been castrated and somebody who has made some choices that are reflective of possibly their ambitions for their political career. And both of those people would be normal labeling of individuals who would have no business being a part of the community of faith. In fact, Deuteronomy has some preventative measures to keep these people from stepping into the temple itself. These are classes of people that would feel excluded if they were to look at the opportunity to come into a church environment. They would say, I don’t have any business there, they wouldn’t welcome me there, they wouldn’t want me there. And here Isaiah is preaching the good news of the Gospel, and he’s saying, that is no longer the case. Let not the foreigner, let not the eunuch say, I’m excluded from that. People who are different from us in the gospel have the opportunity to draw near the eunuch. Look at verses four and five, for this is what the Lord says to the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant to them. I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever for all the things that they had lost and their decisions to move in that direction, to become a eunuch and all the reason for that. In the ancient Near East, one of the things that was big in their culture was having a legacy, having a heritage, having a name, having children that could carry things on for you. And they have given that all up. There’s no future in that regard. But in the good news of the Gospel, God is saying to those who come near to me, I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name. They will have a permanent heritage forever. The foreigner as well. Look at verses six and seven. The foreigners who bind 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 without desecrating it and hold fast to my covenant. These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Gentiles. The foreigners are being invited to draw near to God, and in the good news of the Gospel, they get to draw near to the mountain of God and experience joy in God’s house of prayer. Because his house is called a house of prayer for all nations. They get to experience worship, they get to bring sacrifices that are acceptable on God’s altar, and all because of the good news of the Gospel. So here’s what’s happening. These people who feel that they have no business being in an environment like this get to move toward it. And the experience is not one of exclusion, of like, no, you don’t belong here, so you need to find somewhere else. Their experience in the good news of the Gospel is God is drawing them near. The outsiders are being brought in. Those who felt like they could not be a part of it actually are now a part of it. This happened in the scriptures. In Acts chapter eight, there was an Ethiopian eunuch. So both these categories apply to this one individual. He was a man from Africa and he was a eunuch, and he was the treasurer for the Queen Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia, and he became a spiritual seeker. So he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and he goes there. But that would have been a very discouraging experience for him. We find him on his way back, returning to Ethiopia. And that was a huge ordeal because you couldn’t just buy a southwest ticket and zip over there and check it out and come back. This was like, I’m loading up, I’m taking this trek from Africa to Jerusalem and it’s going to be long and arduous and hard and dangerous and all these different things. So he makes that journey and he would get to the temple, and here’s the problem. As an Ethiopian eunuch, they would say, you’re not welcome here, you can’t come in. I know you came all this way, but I’m sorry, that is not allowable here. And so now he’s going back, but he has not lost that hopefulness that somehow he might experience that God. And so he’s reading from the scroll of prophet Isaiah and Philip, an Israelite man overhears him, reading it, and is led by the Spirit to walk up and ask him a question. Do you understand what you’re reading? Do you understand this prophet Isaiah? And he says no. Who’s he talking about? Himself or someone else? And Philip opens the scriptures to him and shows him how those scriptures are fulfilled in Christ. It’s interesting, though, he’s in Isaiah chapter 53. You don’t have to go very far to make it to Isaiah 56. Can you imagine how that felt for him to hear? The eunuch, the foreigner does not need to say, I am excluded from God’s people. Even though he had that door shut in his face, he would read that verse and he’d say, are you kidding me? That could be true of me. I can be brought in? Yes, you can be given a name and a memorial better than sons and daughters, an everlasting name. And he becomes a believer in that moment in Christ, and he sees that body of water and you’ve got an Israelite man, an Ethiopian man, going down in the water together, and he’s baptized. You see, the outsider in the good news of the Gospel is brought in. The outsider is brought in and brought close to God and experiences inclusion in God’s community of faith. Now, I want you to think about this. What does that mean for the local church? What does it mean for a local church to be a place where somebody who would normally feel excluded and normally say, I’ve got no business being there, feeling like I get to come in and draw close to God. Now, this stuff is really, really hard and really, really messy because we like people who look like us and think like us. And once you start drawing in people who are different, it becomes problematic. But the good news of the Gospel is such that God is saying, no, this is what I’m about. I’m drawing people who are very different from each other, together. And you might have different ideologies and different kind of ways that you process the world, but in my family, you’re together. You guys watch the Chosen. Do you guys remember how when he sent out the two by two, he assigned Simon, the zealot, the guy who’s like, Rome is a problem. We’re going to fight them. I’ve got a knife right now. And he’s about to do battle. And he pairs him up with the tax collector who is compromised, who has like made some sketchy choices that basically put him in league with Rome. And he says, you guys are going out together. And all the disciples are like, I don’t think that’s a good idea. They’re going to kill each other. And that’s how church should feel. We come in here and we go, are you kidding? They’re sitting by each other, they’re going to kill each other. If they start talking after service, that could be a problem. It could get violent in here. But the good news of the Gospel creates this culture where that can actually happen and it can be beautiful because we begin to see that our allegiance is not to some worldly ideologies, but our allegiance is to Christ. And in Christ we become family and we can love and serve one another. So the Gospel takes the outsider and includes them.
Fourth, the Gospel creates a place of mission. If you notice here in verse seven, it said, my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. There is a mission and it involves all the peoples of the earth. Verse eight, it says, the Sovereign Lord declares, he who gathers the exiles of Israel, I will gather still others to them besides those who are already gathered, as saying, look, there is a mission. It involves everyone. And he’s bringing people in and it’s messy, but that’s what God is about. And if we’re going to be a gospel culture where the church is on mission, we have to acknowledge God cares about people who aren’t yet here. And we’re going to have to make some adjustments to try to accommodate how to reach them, either by sending people to them or creating an environment where they would want to be here. But there’s a mission, and that mission is very dear to the heart of God. In Mark chapter eleven, do you guys remember when the Lord visits the temple and he gets raging mad? He goes to the temple, he’s like looking around and he goes, this is a problem. So he goes back to his tent or whatever, he makes a whip. And the next day this is Mark chapter eleven, he goes in there and he goes into this would have been called the Court of the Gentiles, which was there were different levels of access, like, oh, you’re a VIP, come all the way in. But there’s the Court of Gentiles where it’s like, you can only go this far. And he goes in there with his whip and he starts flipping tables over and he starts driving people out. And he quotes Isaiah 56 and he’s mad because he says, my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. And you have. Turned it into a den of robbers. Here’s what’s wrong. You’ve got insiders who are getting preferential treatment. And what they’re doing is they’re disadvantaging the community for their own advantage. They’re wicked. They’re taking advantage of the vulnerable. And they’re saying, if you want to sacrifice here, you got to buy our stuff. You have to buy the stuff to do your sacrifices and we’re going to charge you a lot of money. And the Lord says, that’s not just selfish, that’s wicked. My house is a house of prayer for all nations. I’ve got a mission. And it isn’t just you that I’m concerned with. It’s all who will come and hear the good news of the gospel and respond with faith. As I’ve noted, churches, if we lose the mission, we become ingrown. In fact, that would be the natural gravitational pull of a church. If we don’t remind ourselves over and over again that there is a mission, then every choice we make, it’ll be about us. And we will become ingrown and we will become toxic. We will become a place that’s self righteous. So in order to stay a healthy culture, we have to keep reminding ourselves of the mission that God is at work in this world and he’s inviting us to be a part of it, that any of us would be a part of it. As wild. Chris Wright again, he says it’s not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world as that God has a church for his mission in the world. We don’t just have a missions department and go, okay, we do a lot of different things. Mission is one of the things that we do. No, mission is all that we do. It colors everything that we do. He goes on to say, mission was not made for the church. The church was made for mission. God is at work drawing people to his Son, and the church has a role to play in it. God has a mission and we have to remind ourselves of that. Otherwise we will lose grip of what God wants us to be and do. But God wants us to be on mission with Him. And if we remind ourselves of that, we can be a part of that gospel culture. So as we conclude here, let’s remind ourselves of what it would look like to be a gospel culture. A gospel culture would be concerned with the needs of others and we would be willing to disadvantage ourself for the sake of them. We would look out and look around and go, okay, if there are people in need and we’ve got something to meet that need, we’re going to move toward them. A gospel culture will be a place of rest. We’re not going to tell people, come in and get busy, strive, work, make our organization better. No, we’re going to say, come in and experience the rest of the lord experience his rest. It’ll be a place of inclusion where we find people who are very unlike one another, people who by worldly standards, you would say, they’re not supposed to be here, but in Christ, they’re here and they’re loved. The gospel creates a place of inclusion. And finally, the gospel keeps us on mission because God is at work creating a house of prayer for all nations. And we get to be a part of it by our faith in Christ and our work for Him.
So let’s pray. Let’s be that kind of place. Lord, we ask for your help. We acknowledge how hard it is to actually live this stuff out. We were moved by the idea of being a gospel culture, but we acknowledge how difficult it is to actually do it. So by your spirit, would you please help us? Would you please help us to believe the gospel so deeply that it becomes part of the fabric of the culture of our church family? Lord, help us to pursue all the nations and all the peoples and all the outsiders and help us to draw them to your Son. We pray in his name. Amen.