23You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.
25From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live forever!
27All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
28For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
29To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
30Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
31and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.
This psalm gives us a wonderful sense of what heaven will be like—a gathering of all the different groups of people that God in Christ has come to earth to suffer and die for: down-and-outers, everyone searching for God, people from the four corners of the earth, people estranged from their families, powermongers, people who are poor and powerless, people who never got it together, even children. All are worshiping God together.
As we ponder Jesus’s suffering, death, and resurrection, we need to recognize anew that Jesus did indeed come for all peoples, not just those like me, with the same culture, values, and worldview. He came for all. And we need to recognize that we, in our vast diversity, are all part of God’s family, called to worship God together.
It seems that today we have strayed from this welcoming, Jesus-is-for-all perspective. Too many people are seeking to associate only with those who are like them. So, during this season of Lent, make an effort to reach out to people who are different from you, including people who are different and yet also love and worship Jesus. Start up a conversation, go out for coffee together, invite them over for a meal, share an activity together, or worship with them outside of your comfort zone.
God has called us all a family. God has called us all to worship him—together. After all, this is what heaven will be like.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times when I have excluded others who love you, just because they are different from me. Help me to open myself to others and to see you in people I might avoid. By the power of your Spirit, enable me to reach out in love and communion to people different from me who also love you. Amen.
Patty Ford has been an RCA missionary for 35 years, focusing on Christian education and spiritual formation. She is currently serving in Beirut, Lebanon, with her husband, Peter.