Have you ever noticed that so many religious people have a bent towards exclusion? You might even say that they intentionally choose to exclude others.
Photo by Ethan Weil on Unsplash
At one time in my life I understood this.
At this time in my life I do not understand this at all.
I don’t understand how one can take the life and ministry of Jesus seriously and have the thought that some should be excluded.
Or maintain the thought that some should be left out, or rejected, or cast out.
Jesus was continually reaching out to the rejected and cast out and excluded to let them know that they mattered.
He touched leapers, he ate with “sinners”, he empowered women, he healed the lame, he hugged the poor.
Despite his actions to support his teachings the Jewish people struggled to understand this. In their failure to understand, it led them to being a closed off group of people who became their own religion.
What was the message of Jesus in his ministry? That every one was invited and welcomed into the kingdom. What was the thrust of Paul’s efforts? That the good news was no longer proprietary to the Jewish people and was in fact moving beyond them include the Gentiles as well.
The whole movement of the whole story of the whole Bible is expanding to include the whole of creation.
And yet for some crazy reason the primary underlying theme of many Christians and Churches is trying to figure out how to keep people out.
Or trying to figure out all the ways we are right and everyone else is wrong. Or trying to figure out just how many obstacles we can put up to keep others out before it’s not considered loving.
We’ve made the command of loving others as ourselves a metaphor.
We don’t actually have to do that, it just means to be nice to people.
Smile when you pass them on the sidewalk, hold the door at the gas station, let someone in front of you at the check out line at the grocery store.
There are 6 major branches of modern “Christianity”. There are 300 major denominational traditions. This means that there are a lot of different thoughts and opinions about things concerning the Bible. It also means that there’s a lot more rules and ideals that have been established and put in place to potentially keep people out.
Christianity can’t seem to get along with itself how can we expect it to be open to others.
If Christianity has excluded those who would mostly agree with them but not entirely , what hope does everyone else have?
Also if you were to do any research on hate groups in our country you would see that most of them are faith based which is insane.
Did you know that many of the early leaders of the kkk were preachers and pastors of local churches? Did you also know that the bulk of the kkk’s activity is happening within the so called Bible belt?
There’s something that the American Christian Church has missed somewhere that has led it to have this bent toward exclusion.
The Jewish religious leaders missed it and American Christianity has missed it.
The early church got it.
In Acts 15 there’s this great story about what’s called the Jerusalem council. It’s a story about a group of guys who were directly confronted with the whole story expanding.
They had to decide how to react to the expansion. The good news was no longer limited to the Jewish people it was being expanded to the Gentiles and all of humanity.
The conclusion that the early church came to was that they shouldn’t make the expansion difficult. And in fact they should be proponents of the expansion.
They decided to be proponents of inclusion.
How would you describe your church or your heart? Are you, are they, proponents of inclusion?
In Acts 15 they had a moment to choose. They had the option to pick their path. The path they choose was to open the door and let more people in.
Each day we have a choice, each day the church has a choice. We get to choose the path that we will take.
The path of inclusion or the path of exclusion. I can no longer justify the latter.
Those at the very beginning of the Jesus movement choose the path of inclusion.