Jesus Is an Includer

Screen Door

One of my earliest memories of feeling like an outsider was standing on a neighborhood kid’s porch. I was looking into the living room through a screen door. I was eight years old.

I didn’t know the kid whose porch we were on. I went there with another neighborhood boy to see if we could round anyone up to play basketball, or ride bikes, or something. It was Andy LeMaster’s home. He lived on Greentree Drive, just around the corner from the street on which I lived.

As I stared inside the LeMaster’s home, I saw a scene that stirred in me a sense of wish, something to aspire to. Through the screen door I could see a handful of neighborhood boys, with their shoes off, lying on the floor, watching Saturday morning cartoons. I wished I was one of them. They looked so relaxed, like they belonged. They looked welcomed. I wished I was inside.

Ironically, Andy’s house was the house which my dad grew up. But even though I had family that used to live in that house, I was a stranger to the residents and, therefore, a stranger to the house.

I feel that same way sometimes. In ordinary places, too. Walking into a gas station or The Gap. Like a stranger. Others seem at home, like they belong, comfortable with where they are and enjoying whom they are with.

We, as people, are good at creating insider/outsider, family/stranger divides. But there really isn’t a place for that in the kingdom. Jesus worked very hard to remove divisions between people. And others noticed (Luke 15:2). I think the Beatitudes was Jesus’ list of outsiders (poor, mourners, meek, etc.) whom he would include in what he was doing. Ephesians 2:19 says, “He’s done away with words like alien, outsider and stranger. We’re all fully documented citizens of God’s new nation, his family.”

People want to belong. If the kingdom is anything, it is a welcoming kingdom, because our King is a welcoming King.

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