And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. (Ephesians 1:13)
Some human friendships can be so exclusive that they are unhealthy. They become “cliques” that no one else can break into, “inner circles” that have their little ways and secrets, “groups” that care only for themselves, while others are left on the outside. Sadly, it’s not just in society at large that this happens; we can even find it sometimes in the church - the very last place it should be.
God has always demonstrated His big, inclusive heart for people and has always told His people to do the same. Even in the Old Testament, where God had called a particular people, Israel, to be His “treasured possession” (Exodus 19:5), their relationship with Him was never meant to be exclusive; they were simply meant to be the vehicle of taking His inclusive friendship to others. So, while they were to maintain their distinctiveness as a people, provision was made within the Law, for example, for foreigners among them to enjoy the Sabbath rest and to participate in their festivals.
Jesus, not surprisingly, demonstrated the same sort of inclusive attitude. His heart is so big, and His kingdom is so big, that He made clear there is room for all. The Gospels show Him welcoming men and women, Jew and Gentile, young and old, religious and “sinner.” None was excluded! All were welcomed, all could find a place; and in the security of His friendship, they could start to discover God for themselves.
As friends of God, we too have the promise of being included. None is left on the outside of the circle; none is left on the fringe; none is not part of the group. In Christ, we are His friends, His children, part of His flock, part of His family— a family that stretches across heaven and earth, and through time and space, cutting through every barrier, whether geographical, racial or social. Today, we can know we are included, just as He promised.
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him. (Romans 10:12)
© Copyright 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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