Every school day I walk my daughter to school and then walk her home when I pick her up. She’s growing up in a different world than I grew up in, a different world than most existing churches came of age in. And it matters! It matters if you profess the name of Jesus as Lord and Messiah.
The world I grew up in was a very homogenous world compared to my daughter’s world. As I walk my daughter to school, we pass a couple of Muslim families as well as several Latino families. The students at her school are vey diversified, representing every continent on the planet but the largest migrant people come from either the Middle-East or Latin America.
For Christians, this presents an new opportunities to participate in the mission of God. It is an opportunity to make disciples of Jesus Christ of our new Muslim neighbors (no easy task) and Latino neighbors who migrate to America as non-believers. But this will likely never happen as long as we are more worried about being Americans than we are with being Christians. That is, when what occupies our attention the most are American interests and electing those officials who will serve that purpose, we are only building walls between us, them, and God.
The walls have to do with our national/ethnic identities over their national/ethnic identities. What makes this problematic is that for Christians, our national/ethnic identity belongs to the old self that has been crucified with Christ in the waters of baptism.
We may need to refer to our national/ethnic identities for legal and business proceedings in this world, but they should never be the identity we live out of. In fact, regardless of our national and ethnic identity, as Christians we are called to live the same life of Christ as a new life lived to God (cf. Rom 6:10-11). Thus it is no longer our national or ethnic identities that determine what we say and do. Rather, our new identity in Christ is the foundation for how we live theologically, politically, morally, and most certainly, missionally.
All this means that as disciples of Christ, we are Christians first. And that changes the way we live our life and the aim of our life. Once we realize this, a world of missions opens up right in our very own neighborhood.