Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Renewal for a Multi-cultural and Multi-generational Community
Josh. 8:35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the aliens who resided among them.
Joshua was now the leader of the Israelites and had led them to a victory over Ai. However, the community was in need of an on-going reminder of their covenant relationship with God. This was not just a relationship between the leadership and God, but a relationship of the entire community and God. Joshua gathered the entire assembly together and read every word of Moses’ commands to them. No one was excluded from this reading. The women were responsible for the children who were in the home and therefore the women and the children needed to hear these commands directly. The aliens were also considered a part of this community as long as they lived by the laws of God.
Inclusivity was an important feature in God’s community and every member was to know the importance of their relationship to God.
We see the beauty of a multi-cultural and multi-generational people of God in this story. The message wasn’t just given to one group at a time, but to all of them, brought together in one place as a community. No one was to hear anything second-hand but directly from Joshua.
Within Christianity we have tended to divide ourselves among generational and ethnic lines. We have children’s church, youth group and Hispanic services all happening in different corners of church buildings. I’m afraid that we have convinced ourselves that this is the best way to provide individualized instruction for all the different needs that are found within our communities of faith. There may be a time and a place for this individualized focus but at the same time may we be lacking something by not meeting together as a multi-cultural and multi-generational community of faith?
I can just imagine in Joshua’s day that the children got a little antsy. He was probably not just reading the Ten Commandments! And yet, there was something important about the entire assembly of Israel hearing the word of God together. When a community of faith hears and processes God’s commands together, then they are able to respond together as a united people. One generation to the next, and one nationality to the next, hears and commits to the same truth.
Jesus wanted the world to be able to look at his people and say they “love one another.” (John 13:35) Maybe it’s time again for a renewal of our commitment to him — as the entire assembly. We need to gather, young and old, male and female, and every culture — together. We need to have the shared experience of hearing the word and responding as a diverse community of faith. In this we will find our unity and the world will see that we truly do “love one another.”
Lord, may we be willing to be intentional when it comes to bringing your people together and living in response to you. Amen.