Several years ago, a young couple began attending my church. They didn't look like "church folks." They were dressed too well, and were just simply too good-looking – not that there are not handsome Christians. But the dead giveaway that they did not usually attend church was when they sat on the front row. I wondered if they would come back after the first Sunday, but they did. They got saved. I baptized them. And within a few years they were serving as missionaries in lndia.
It was one of those moments when I realized that God was in charge of the growth and expansion of his church, not me. God calls people to Christ, and it is amazing how many different kinds of people he lets into the church, and not only lets in but calls to be in. Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish" (Matthew 13:47). ln John's vision of heaven he said, "l saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb" (Revelation 7:9).
A New Testament church is not a group of people who all have a common past cultural background or history. Rather, it is a people who share a common future together in Christ Jesus. Today we are examining the branching out of the church into the Gentile world – and since most of us here are Gentiles, this is a very meaningful passage to us personally.