Please note: I didn’t get this written yesterday before church. When I got home after church, I had computer problems and didn’t think about this again until late at night. I finished yesterday’s this morning and will finish today’s later. I’m sorry.
In the ancient Japanese system of Bushido, samurai were the military upper class. They pledged allegiance to the lord of their area, or daimyo and received honor and praise from that association. The bond was supposed to be so close that should the daimyo die or be deposed, the samurai was supposed to commit seppuku or ritual suicide. Those who didn’t, or those who wee stripped of their status by the daimyo became displaced samurai or ronin. Ronin were disgraced by their very existence and wandered the countryside trying to survive. Their disgrace came because they had no family, no people. No matter what they might accomplish in life, they were always ronin.
There’s something special about being a member of a team, even if our membership on the team is that we cheer for them. When the Houston Astros won their first World Series, the whole city of Houston and much of the surrounding area cheered the fact that “we won.” Cynics might note that “we” might be a bit of hyperbole, because none of those celebrating in the streets helped play the games. And yet, every member of the Astros would probably agree with those proclaiming “we” won. The citizens of Houston were caught up in the whole “we won” excitement and everyone was part of the team. The joy they experienced was amazing. It’s far better to be a part of a group than it is to be alone; to be a ronin. Peter reminds us of that. “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10 NIV)
This is the amazing power of God. He makes us a people. We are the people of God. We who are His people are black, white, brown, yellow, red, or any other color people may be. We are male or female. We are rich, of middle-income, or poor. We are the social elites and the socially downtrodden. Whatever differences we may have, we are all one in Christ Jesus. We are His people. We are His people because of His mercy, because of His grace. Peter noted that truth for first century Christians: Jews who didn’t endure anyone outside of their faith, Romans who looked down on non-Romans, Greeks who saw everyone else as barbarians, and all the other assorted people of the Roman Empire. When they came to faith in Jesus, they realized that their old identification as Jew, Roman, or Greek, was useless and that without God and His mercy, they would not be a people. These came to faith through God’s mercy and became the people of God.
My first identification is as a child of God. I find that wherever I go, I can find my family – God’s people. There are a lot of great things about being a citizen of the United States, and I do my best to be a good citizen; but there’s nothing better than being part of the people of God. Because I have received His mercy I know that wherever I travel in the world, I have family. I have felt that in Mexico, in Central Asia, and in Rwanda as I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to travel and share God’s love in those areas. If I have a sadness about being part of the people of God, it’s that since we’re all there by God’s mercy, some of us still carry our old sins. There are some among us who think they’re better than others because of skin color, economic, or social conditions. God can still work on people like that, His mercy is amazing. The key is reminding those brothers and sisters that once they were not a people (no matter their skin color, economic, or social condition) but now, in God, they have become His people. No matter how great they thought their previous associations were, they were nothing compared to what they now have: being a part of the family, the people of God.
Oh Lord, thank You for welcoming me into Your family. Use me to help others to see this amazing joy.
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.