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.