From Bill Sutter’s Desk Jan/Feb 2005
As services at the Jerusalem Assembly in Israel came to a close recently, I realized that those of us in attendance had witnessed the compelling truth of Galatians 3:28:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
We had experienced the wonderful unity that is a living reality for people whose faith is grounded in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Word of God was proclaimed from the pulpit with power, first in Hebrew and then in English, reflecting the two main languages spoken within this diverse congregation. Off to one side of the church, the message was simultaneously translated into a third language for the Russian-speaking congregants. Meanwhile, in another room, children were taught from the Bible in Hebrew while someone translated into English.
Jewish leaders of the Jerusalem Assembly pointed with special joy to one of their newer involved families—Palestinians: a mother, father, and their children. love for the lord was the stimulus drawing people together. We could not help but praise God as we witnessed the character of Christ in the lives of His people.
Further evidence of how the divisions of the world melt away at the feet of Jesus Christ also came from another part of Israel. From the Tel Aviv area came a report on a Passover seder that was a great success. More than 65 people attended, both saved and unsaved, Jewish and Gentile, including 10 people from a Christian-Arab congregation. Many testified to the great blessing it was for brethren to fellowship together in unity. These Christians were, in the words of Paul, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
Another account thrilled our hearts. A chartered bus took 40 people from an Israeli congregation of believers to the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. They joined in worship with a group of Arab Christians, some of whom had participated in the seder earlier. One of the Israeli women shared her testimony in English, and it was translated into Arabic. She spoke about how blessed she was to join with “our Arab brothers and sisters in love.”
After the service the Jewish believers gathered with several Arab congregations for a friendship meal. It was a blessed time of fellowship for those whom God sees, not for their differences, but as believers clothed with the righteousness of His Son. United to Christ, they understood how they were therefore united to each other. As equals in Messiah, their oneness was truly genuine.
The nations of the world make much of their search for peace and harmony. Yet Isaiah the prophet noted their plight: “The way of peace they have not known” (Isa. 59:8).
And also the apostle Paul: “And the way of peace they have not known” (Rom. 3:17).
Nations fail to achieve peace because they do not recognize the God of peace. Today the Arab-Israeli conflict is analyzed with increasing pessimism. Out of frustration, people commonly describe the situation with terms like unsolvable and hopeless. Without the Lord, mankind’s best attempts at conflict resolution are doomed.
The true, biblical unity that is found in Jesus Christ transcends national and social differences. It disregards class distinctions, race, and rank. It places people on an equal footing and forges a bond of faith that will endure throughout eternity.