In my most recent two posts I presented some snippets of ideas from Brian McLaren’s book The Secret Message of Jesus. Those posts dealt with a touchy topic. That is, considering the possibility that there may be limits to inclusion.
Now, I would like to challenge you to consider the extensiveness of radical inclusion that can occur at the same time.
Reading over my previous posts I felt that I may have left readers with the impression that I was presenting material intended to justify closing the community of Christ and not including some based on judgement calls. This is not my intent. Perhaps I took the easy way out by posting a quote from someone else with out properly qualifying my views on the topic.
I believe that it is acceptable and necessary for a community of Christ to limit inclusion when that inclusion would bring in forces INTENT on disruption and disunity. There are those people out there. They join a community and then begin to sow seeds of discord and disruption. This doesn’t mean that I think that they need to conform or that different opinions and viewpoints aren’t welcome. They are. However, it’s never appropriate to be judgemental, and it’s certainly not appropriate to actively work to disrupt the work of others who are trying to do their part to make Christ known and live out his kingdom here and now; in this time; in this age.
I’m getting a little off track here, so let me regroup.
I’m linking a video to a message delivered last Sunday by a pastor at Eastlake Community Church. Google them if you want to know more about them. They have an online church community as well as several physical locations in Washington state. This pastor’s message is powerful and speaks volumes about what it means to practice the same kind of radical inclusion that Jesus practiced. Watch it. Share your thoughts. My thoughts are simple.
I relate to his story. I’ve spent many years thinking I was being inclusive and not understanding that being silent was actually being passively exclusive. When we fail to practice inclusivity by putting it into visible, supportive, action, we fall into the trap of being exclusive through passive inclusivity. I understand now that silently accepting and including someone who is seeking Christ is the same as excluding them. I understand now that I have a personal responsibility to honor my faith by actively … perhaps radically … including them.
Eastlake Community Church message – 1/25/15
I heard it said recently that as a community of believers in the way of Jesus we should be prepared and willing to accept and include anyone into the community. However, I think it’s important and essential that our inclusion not be blind. This is often a difficult distinction which serves to illustrate the radically paradoxical world of our Lord.
Instead, we should adopt the practice of purposeful inclusion. This does not mean that we begin practicing exclusiveness and rejection. Instead, we seek to include all who want to participate in and contribute to the community, but not those whose purpose is the opposite.
To be truly inclusive we must exclude exclusive people. On the other hand, to be truly all inclusive we must not gather all, rejecting those who reject the gathering.
The paradox exists because we must be inclusive and exclusive at the same time, sometimes with the same people. We must make our community inclusive for all those who choose to be a part of the community of believers, while at the same time excluding all those who would choose to ruin the community. Unless they have a change of heart. Then they should be welcomed in.
Perhaps Brian McLaren said it best in his example from The Secret Message of Jesus…
If the kingdom of God were a symphony, it would welcome anyone who had a desire to learn to play music — from tuba players to piccolo players, from violinists to percussionists. It would accept beginners and master musicians, wisely pairing up the novices with mentors who could help them learn. But it could not welcome people who hated music or who wanted to shout and scream and disrupt rehearsals and concerts; that would ruin the music for everyone and destroy the symphony. True, it would try to influence music haters to become music lovers, but it couldn’t accept them into the symphony until they wanted to be there because of a love of music.