I have had the joy and privilege of attending and serving in an international church for the past seven years. On any given Sunday, we have up to 52 different countries represented in our congregation. This means at least as many languages and cultures gather to meet as one body. Singing all together is truly a glimpse of Heaven. Worshipping in this context has significantly impacted and shaped me in various ways. The most notable has been expanding my view of God’s Grace as I glimpse His great Plan of redemption.

The first lesson of an expansive view of God’s Grace is actually to see how wide it truly is. Growing up in American evangelicalism, I was naturally inhibited from knowing what God was doing around the world. Sure, there are books, movies, and the occasional missionary guest speaker, but it’s difficult to comprehend that God’s Grace is global. I’ve been in awe of hearing how God continues to call all types of people to Himself and redeem them from unimaginable circumstances.

I’ve heard the testimony of an Indian man who, like Timothy, can trace his faith to his grandmother. His family has been disregarded in their polytheistic Hindu culture. Their bold stance for the exclusivity of Christ comes with daily persecution. God continues to work in and through their family, strengthening their faith beyond what should be possible.

I’ve also been privileged to hear how faithful Christians continue to meet in house churches in northern Nigeria, even after deadly attacks from Boko Haram have killed many of our brothers and sisters. Despite opposition, Christ adds an exclamation mark on His Grace, demonstrating that He will build His church against all odds as His Grace relentlessly brings His sheep into the fold. God’s Grace is mighty and moving all around the world.

Another reason I am in awe of the power of His Grace is because, amongst such diversity, God’s Grace unites and transforms our identity. Every Sunday, I still can’t believe how meaningful this is. It’s incredible for a German, an American, a Singaporean, and a Columbian to all belt out the chorus to Amazing Grace together. All of us are from different backgrounds, with different mother tongues, but we are all united in our adoration for our Savior. Growing up, we all had other homes, but we will all have mansions on the same streets of gold for all eternity. Incredible.

We are more alike than we are different. This is the transforming power of grace. God puts to death the old to make us new. We are born again into a new life. We are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of the Blessed Son (Colossians 1:13-14). Our old selves are no more. We are now citizens of Heaven and have new family members. This means that you and I have more in common with a Zambian Christian than with members of our own family who are not believers. It doesn’t matter that I can’t speak French. I have more unity and kinship with a French brother sitting next to me than I have with a childhood best friend who is unregenerate.

This is the reality of the uniting power of God’s Grace. God is fundamentally transforming our identities and making a nation for His possession. I am no longer an American-Christian but simply a Christian. There are no Ethiopian-Christians, Hungarian-Christians, Malaysian-Christians, only fellow pilgrims, fellow saints, brothers, and sisters. Jesus destroys the hyphen in our identity and molds us into one eternal family. This unity, this oneness, is not the result of affirmative action or a quota system but genuine unity bought by the blood of the Son of God. Being part of a Heavenly family is another fantastic thing about Grace.

Another incredible thing about God’s Grace is seeing its effect on people. It is seeing transformed people begin to transform the world around them to reflect Christ better. I know of a Zambian couple who sought Biblical pre-marital counseling instead of the predominate African cultural counseling. I’ve talked to a Filipino principal who helped start a Christian school, so children weren’t educated by the secular state. I’ve shared a meal with a Christian business owner in Nigeria who is committed to reflecting Christ in his business. At the same time, a Hong Kong believer tears down the idols of her Buddhist and Ancestral worshipping past, choosing to honor Christ over her grandparents. It’s inspiring to see Christians being Christians—Christians who are bold and actively changing their culture to glorify Jesus.

In America, we have grown complacent. We have had the blessings of a Christian heritage and culture for over 200 years. But that has sadly dramatically changed. In our pagan age, it is no longer acceptable for Christians to act like Christians. May we never forget that Christianity is, by definition, counterculture. We are called to live differently because we are. Only when we embrace Grace’s all-encompassing, all-of-life-changing effects can we truly live as Christians and effectively fulfill the Great Commission by discipling the nations and teaching them to obey Christ in all things. Until we do that, the American church will remain weak and ineffective. Take heart, though; being weak and ineffective is not the norm for Christians. It’s not who God made us to be.

Lastly, the incredible thing about Grace is that God’s grace is so expansive because it will include people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. I didn’t appreciate how vast the Father’s love for us is. Again, growing up in a place where I didn’t see many people from other countries, I knew about this in my head but not in my heart.

We see this promise as John peered into the future and saw all the saints worshipping at the feet of the Lamb. He sees such a multitude that he can’t count them (Revelation 7:9). They are members from every tribe, tongue, and nation. This means that Christ will continue building His church until all its members are accounted for. We can look at today’s world and see Christianity’s declining influence in the West. We see empty cathedrals in Europe and more and more Americans leaving the faith. But this is not the future of our faith. Some nations have not yet heard the gospel, but they will. Some people speak Farsi, Kurdish, and Arabic and haven’t responded to the gospel in over 1500 years, but there will still be people who speak Farsi, Kurdish, and Arabic worshipping at the feet of Jesus. There are tribes in the Amazon who have not bent the knee to Christ, but they will. The Indian subcontinent has over 121 languages, and people who speak every one of those languages will be with us, “crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:10 ESV).

The future is gospel success because Jesus cannot fail. As Jesus said, His Kingdom is like a bit of yeast in a loaf. The yeast will slowly spread until it fills the loaf (Matthew 13:33). This Kingdom will advance and topple every pagan nation and false God. As Daniel interpreted in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the statue of Earthly Kingdoms was crushed by the stone from Heaven. This stone of God’s Kingdom will continue to grow until it “become[s] a great mountain and fills the whole earth” (Daniel 2: 35 ESV). All of this must take place, for in Heaven, with us, will be brothers and sisters from every tribe, tongue, and nation. His irresistible Grace will triumph. In the end, Christ wins.

God’s grace is expansive. It is global in scale and uniting, making us one family with people worldwide. His Grace is causing people to change their culture to reflect Him. Jesus is building His church. We are all living stones uniting us to Him and each other. May we stop today and stand in awe of Grace. May we look forward to and participate in His truth marching on. Lastly, may we genuinely marvel at how God so loved the world— the whole world.

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