Are You an “Insider” or “Outsider?”

Yall comeA few years back my friend Tim talked about a church strategy he called Y’ALL COME.

The notion seemed simple. Open the doors wide, put up a sign, have people at the doors with big smiles, and we’ve done our part, right?

Not so much.

Tim claimed Y’ALL COME wasn’t good enough. He said we can’t wait for folks to show up, that it’s our responsibility to go get ‘em. He said we have to reach out and bring people into the church. (I described Tim’s creative response in Who’s Special?)

I think that’s a great first step, but it’s only a band-aid. The people we “bring in” are always going to feel like outsiders, because that’s in fact exactly what they are. There’s “them” and there’s “us” and we’re inviting “them” to become part of “us.” Obviously “us” is superior to “them” because we’re asking them to assimilate.

In Ephesians 2:11-18, Paul explains that Jesus’ death reconciled BOTH Jew and Gentile to God. The Jews wanted to believe they were the original in-crowd and now the Gentiles were being invited to join and become some sort of second-class Jews. But Paul writes, “His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross…”

This is about a lot more than skin color or lifestyle. I experience it when people make assumptions about me and attempt to marginalize me in subtle and not-so-subtle ways because I sit in a wheelchair.

This is about anyone who’s perceived as different from us because they feel that perception. We can call them special and create all the ministries we want for them, but as long as they’re “them,” they’re never really part of us.

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

My guess—and maybe I’m wrong—is we mostly don’t believe we’re all the same—especially if we’re part of the privileged majority.

Justice means the ground at the foot of the cross really is level, and if we’re honest we’d rather have the illusion of occupying slightly higher ground.

Until we acknowledge our bias, we can’t let it go. And until we let it go, justice and reconciliation will be nice words.

The ground in my own heart’s not as level as I’d like. Jesus and I have a bit of excavating to do.

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Dixon
Copyright by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his website www.relentlessgrace.com

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