Unfortunately, people everywhere have always struggled with ethnocentrism. My definition of it is an unwillingness to see the faults in one's own culture or society, and to think that you're innately better than someone else because of your cultural background. And even more unfortunately, a lot of times this attitude filters into the Church. This doesnt mean that Christians shouldn’t love their country, nor does it mean that we should be hypercritical of our own culture. What it does mean that is that we should honestly (and biblically) critique our own culture and society, not to mention our own lives. We should hold our values and traditions up to the light of Scripture and not be afraid to discard what doesn’t measure up.
It’s regrettable but true that the Lord's people have given into this tendency, but it’s also important to point out that God has never condoned this attitude. He told the Hebrews at the very beginning that his blessings upon them was in no way due to their righteousness; in fact, quite the contrary was true. The Israelites, of course, completely ignored his warnings about this, and fell into this trap. By the time of Jesus, their belief in the inherent superiority of Jews over Gentiles was so ingrained that even Peter and the apostles were affected.
This was never his plan or intention. Right before he gave the Law to his people, he gave a hint as to his ultimate purpose for them. He was going to bless them with his word, but ultimately this was to bless others. He said that they were to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” A priest is a “go-between,” a representative to stand between humanity and God, representing both sides to the other. If the whole nation was supposed to be a kingdom of priests, then whom were they representing? Well, that would basically only leave the other nations on the "Non-God" side of the great gap which a priest is meant to step into. Obviously the Lord's ultimate purpose for Israel was to use them somehow to bring fallen humanity back to himself. My understanding is that the immediate application was that they were supposed to represent the God of Israel to all the nations. By falling into ethnocentrism, they failed in this.
Of course, everything that national Israel was meant to do and failed, Jesus did. He's our Great High Priest, standing in the gap between the Father and us, pleading our case before him. But what about us?
You might think that you don’t fall into this trap, so let me ask you (and me) some questions. Are there any groups or people in the world that you think God has “given up on”? You might not think you’re a priest, but 1 Peter 2:9 says that you're “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” The Lord has blessed you so that you can bless others.
Lord Jesus, I am so privileged and honored to be your representative. Please let people see less of me and more of you.
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