There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 (NLT)
Inclusivism is big these days – sorry is the lot of anyone who leaves anyone out!
A pastor helped plan a lovely garden tea party for the ladies of the church, set up chairs on the church lawn. Unfortunately he forgot to add the head of the ladies auxilliary to the list of invitations. Late on the night before the event the pastor suddenly remembered and called her to apologize and beg her to come. It’s too late for that Reverend, she snorted, I’ve already prayed for rain!
As a new pastor more than 30 years ago I struggled with announcements and recognitions in church worship services. I once neglected recognizing the matriarch of our church on Mother’s Day; I’m not sure I was ever forgiven!
In the denomination to which I belong and serve, we go to great pains to use inclusive language, inclusive attitudes, and we succeed (or die trying) to be so inclusive and open minded that nobody gets offended. We don’t always succeed!
As inclusive as we claim to be, we promote, even pay-for segregation in the strangest places. We call it “mission” when we pay a smaller group of ethnic or language Christians (Hispanic, Korean, Vietnamese, African-American) to worship in some place other than “ours”. We buy them a building (or give them one of our castoff buildings from a failed anglo group), pay for a pastor and bid them much success….over there!
We United Methodists are poster children for the most segregated hour of the week – Sunday morning at 11am!
I know all the arguments about why we do such things; the birds of a feather flock together argument says that folk with the same language, customs or history would much rather be with their own.
Well, I’m here to ask the question today – which is stronger, the nationalistic pride of this country or that country, this language or that language, this skin color or that skin color….or is it the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us? Are we not HIS own?
I get it that we have differences in ideaology or theology, but if we are United in our Methodism, why doesn’t it show in our willingness to be children of God under the same roof?
I think the fact remains that we are perhaps more willing to be separated, like the scattered language groups leaving the Tower of Babel, than we are willing to be drawn together by the Spirit under Christ.
Lord have mercy.
We already have cowboy churches, trucker churches, camper churches; I would not be surprised one day to see church plants in the future that are so inclusive they limit membership by special interest. There will be the old people’s church (for Baby Boomers like me who are a formidable voting block), or churches that only accept retired tennis players, or the church for LGBT poodle owners.
When is all the nonsense going to stop?
If we are people within whom the Holy Spirit dwells, is that not enough to accept each other and be obedient to the call of Christ?
When you encounter someone of different ethnicity, social status, economic means, skin color, or challenges galore, the choice is there to act strangely warmed by the presence of the Spirit bearing witness…or to just act strangely (for a Christian) and reject that person’s “otherness”.
Be inclusive – embrace the Spirit!