inclusion / exclusion

i was talking with a friend yesterday about us and them and who, as christians, them is. 

of course, we all belong to lots of us groups.  i’m a guy, a musician, a skater, a blogger, and the list goes on.  think about your conversation when you first meet someone.  it’s essentially a little exercise in determining whether you’re new acquaintance is part of “us”.  we look for clues in everything: “does he look like us?”, “does he dress like us?”, “talk like us?”, “play our sports?”, “drive our type of car?”, “belong to our organization?”. 

in general, people prioritize us groups based on context.  in one situation it might really bother you that someone is a different religion and speaks poor english and eats odd foods.  but if you’re walking toward a soccer field and he’s dribbling the ball like a pro, all those distinctions seem unimportant.  now he’s us.

one of the things about being a christian – someone following jesus – is that our motivations should be different from the world around us.  in the us and them department it starts by realizing that everyone you meet is part of our first us group; sinners-in-need-of-a-savior.  it isn’t context-dependent – it applies to the whole world.  it’s the primary group  we’re a member of.  there is no corresponding them – everyone is part of us.

the second us group, for a christian, is the group of people-who-acknowledge-jesus-as-savior-and-lord.  them in this case, is everyone who hasn’t yet recognized this truth.  our mission is to invite them to become one of us.  that is, in fact, our entire primary mission.  everything else is just the frame around the picture.

but here’s where it gets dicey.  we all belong do a lot of us groups.  and our human nature wants to give priority to the us group in closest proximity.   when we’re at school or work or involved in a hobby or sport – we can value our standing in that group and lose sight of the group that matters.  even worse, when we’re around the group-of-believers-we-meet-with-regularly (a.k.a.; church), we can somehow value our little group above the group of all believers.  this second problem is the primary topic of paul’s first letter to the church in corinth.  he wrote to chastise them for the divisions among them and to draw the distinction between us (believers) and them (the world).

paul wrote, “has christ been divided?”; but every sunday we “divide him” many ways.  we divide based on worldly groups like ethnicity and race.  we divide based on our traditions.  we divide based on the particular teaching of the founders of our little group.  we divide based on the little piece of real estate our group has purchased and the building we’ve built on it. 

and whatever the criteria we use to divide his body – our ethnicity or race or tradition or doctrine or building – has become an idol.  it’s become that because we’ve given it priority over his group.  on that last day, only his group will matter.

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3 Responses to “inclusion / exclusion”

  1. identity « fierybones Says:

    […] self, determines my behavior toward them (see: we’re number one, drawing the wrong lines, and inclusion / exclusion).  and how i view that person is determined by two things – the group i see them in and the group […]

  2. paarsurrey Says:

    Hi

    Please don’t mind. This might interest you.

    The SecondComing of Jesus has already happened in the form of the PromisedMessiah 1835-1908 fullfilling the signs as prophesised by Jesus and Muhammad. In my opinion, the Christians, Muslims and Jews should accept him.

    Kindly visit my blog for interesting posts in this connection for your peaceful comments and or discussions on the pages/posts there. Differing opinions are also welcome.

    Thanks

    I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

  3. fierybones Says:

    nope

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