1 Kings 8:41-43 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name—for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays towards this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling-place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.”
I don’t know how well I have registered that there was such a “world missions” oriented declaration at this point in Israel’s history. Various prophets touched on God’s heart for the nations and it comes out in a Psalm or two, but this is a very public pronouncement on the part of the king. Solomon’s motives may have been less than pure, focused on building the reputation of the temple itself, but still this is a very real start to reaching out to anyone, of whatever ethnicity, who seeks God. It took some pretty dramatic action on God’s part to get even the early Church to recognize that He was more than the God of the Jews, but now the tables are turned and some Christians go so far as to be antisemitic. I think such people don’t really know the God they claim to serve! Paul got it right when he said that God wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4) We miss so much of God when we focus on I-my-me-mine. God worked with one people group, the physical descendants of Abraham, just as he works with individuals today, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t care about everyone else. We have trouble grasping that because God is infinite, someone else being loved and blessed in no way diminishes what is available for us. With God, it’s never a “zero-sum game!” Anyone who thinks about it realizes that the more they love, the more love they receive. Love totally violates Newton’s laws, not to mention entropy, and God is love. The better we grasp that the more blessed we will be.
I grew up in a family that was totally steeped in world missions. My grandfather, W. O. Carver, founded what is currently the oldest Department of Missions in any school in the world and his second daughter became a single missionary, before marrying my father in Japan (since he had received his own call to missions). Even as a child it was a mystery to me how some people could be unconcerned about the salvation of those outside of their immediate circle. At this point I have been an independent, self-supporting missionary in Japan for about 36 years. Small churches have a strong tendency to become self-centered, so to counter that we have been tithing our general offerings to New Life League, a Christian printing company in the Tokyo area that sends Bibles to China, as well as to other places that need them. I try to help the believers understand that yes, God loves us and wants the best for us, but that doesn’t mean He loves anyone else less, and we can participate in what He wants to do through prayer and in various other ways.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I pray that You would help me be more effective in sharing Your worldwide vision with Your children, so that we may participate fully in what You are doing, for our blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!