“Us and Them” – Are We Radically Inclusive?

jealousy

Does it hurt to not be included?  If it’s “us vs them” what does it feel like to be a “them”? Does it really feel good to be an “us”??

I saw the group of people in the airport. It’s a religious sect, whose name you know. Nothing stands out about them – they dress in regular clothes. They could have been here for a convention or a family reunion. I recognized them only because of their nametags. Apparently they do a lot of conventions, as I’ve come to recognize their nametags in airports, in the hotel where I recently attended a conference. It’s a religious sect, and it makes me a little nervous. They’re “nice”… they’re “friendly”… There is nothing to be “nervous” about, but I am uncomfortable around them.

Why is that?

I know little about them, except that they have an agenda, they believe they are in and others are out – us and them. And, they likely see me only as someone who is outside their group – if they see me at all. If I’m not willing to be drawn into their sect, then they probably have nothing to talk to me about.

It began to seep into me… around the edges… under the door… This is how people feel around Christians.

They see Christians as having an agenda, that they believe they are in and everyone else is out. They see others only as someone who is outside their group – if they see them at all. Unless those others are willing to become Christians, then they have nothing to talk about.

The similarities are haunting. The similarities make me sick.

Jesus did not come to start a sect or a new religion. He came to stand against religion. Jesus came to offer life. And he offered life to everyone. He did not separate the in from the out. He was not starting a club. No conventions, no nametags; he did not have an obedience-based agenda. He simply said, Follow me.

Life is Jesus’ offer. Abundant, bubbling over, incomparable life.

He said this very strange thing, that people would know we are his disciples because of our overflowing love for each other. Not our doctrine, nor our list of banned behavior, not even how “nice” we are. Not our list of who’s in and who’s out, either.

Totally not that.

Love. Love is what would mark us as people who follow Jesus; love is the one job Jesus gave us to do. Just love.

Dangit!

That’s the feeling in my stomach. It’s the sick realization that so many of us have missed our main call, and people hold their nose as we walk by.

I’m grief-stricken because the world does not see our overflowing love and know we’re Jesus’ disciples. It sees our harshness and rules, and it attributes that to Jesus.

That creepy feeling I get around this religious sect at the airport is what other people get around so many Christians. And they miss it. They miss the wonderful life, example, and love that the true Jesus models and offers.

It’s not “us and them.”

As I heard someone say: “God and I are one, and you are included.”  🙂

5 thoughts on ““Us and Them” – Are We Radically Inclusive?

  1. God used Facebook to change my heart and mind. I met gay Christians. I wondered how that could be. I began to prayerfully question and search for the truth and I found it. And it wasn’t in the Church’s teaching I had listened to all my life. Now I’m meeting pagans. You know, the demonic people who frighten most Christians and who we’re supposed to shun. But because God cracked open my churchianity and exposed it for what it was, I’m not afraid anymore to talk to them, to listen to them, and be friends with them. I’ve had them tell me that I’m not like the other Christians they’ve encountered all their lives. I feel a great burden has lifted because I don’t have to preach to them for them to see Jesus living in me. If they ever ask I’ll be ready to share. But not like I would have shared before. Now I just listen.

    • Imagine how the world would change if we all just began to do three things: Love God, Love others, and Listen deeply.

  2. I do believe I follow Jesus, but I can barely put myself in a church unless I am doing so to be respectful of a person I love and care for. I also go to funerals because I need to ritualize my mourning. However, I do have a contemplative prayer group I am committed to and we are of many christian religions. Such a beautiful group and way of being together, such authenticity!! No one tries to convince anyone of anything except that they are loved by God and loved by us. My wife and I are on the leadership team and many of the group are Catholic or Methodist…and we have evangelical folks too. So amazing!! We are there to pray!!

  3. Amen.
    I always felt those “yucky feelings” when I would go with friends to “their churches” here in my town. I never liked it or “got” their church. (SB)

    I feel so many Christians miss the mark, I always have.
    I too, can get very angry, very quick, and have to pull back some, for anger is not the way. I now ask people questions to make them think, and when they answer them, the light bulb comes on. I like to have discussions with folks, Christians, about there “sin boxes”, and how do they think we can win more hearts and minds for Jesus?

    One FIRST needs to become a “Christ Follower”, and then the rest will fall in to place. It can take years.
    We DO NOT need to put out there what it means to be a Christ Follower FIRST, ( all the rules), then, see if one “fits in”, and THEN one may be allowed to follow. Other Christians DO NOT get to decide that. ( that is backwards and NOT what Jesus did)

    I can say, I do not fit in, and I do not want to be a part of that. Love God, Love Others

    It IS between the person and Christ.

    I just walk on……….:)

  4. Very true… The Spiritual But Not Religious see Christianity as something to avoid… My son is in that number based upon what you have said. This is also why I prefer to call myself a Christ Follower…

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