Awhile ago I was sitting around a table with a bunch of people with job titles, and advanced degrees, accomplishments out the wazoo, and years of valuable experience. And I felt like the outsider. Not a valid contributor to the discussion. A toddler sitting at the grown-up’s table. Not a big deal. It happens. A good exercise in humility. But it made me think…
I’m not a Bachelor/Bachelorette addict, but I have watched enough with my daughter, Maggie. I know when the girl doesn’t get the rose and is in the back seat of the limo crying or angry, it’s not about losing the true love of her life. It’s about not getting chosen. Feeling “not good enough.” Suddenly on the outside when others are still in.
Isn’t this why reality t.v. is so popular? We are a culture of insiders and outsiders.
We love judging.
We may not have been voted off the island on national t.v., but we can all relate. There has been a time when we’ve been left out. Unchosen for a sorority or fraternity. Fired, disqualified, excluded, with no place at the cool kids’ table. We’ve been on the outside.
But we’ve all also felt what it’s like to be “in” too. There’s been a time when we’ve made the team, gotten the job, been invited to the table.
And we know that in feels oh so much better than out!
The Old Testament system specified who could get close to God. The Court of Gentiles, Court of women, Court of Priests, the Holy of Holies. It was like the curtain on a plane between 1st class and coach. Have you ever tried to go to the bathroom that’s in first class when you’re seated in coach? Danger, Batman! Sit down and eat your peanuts! The people who matter are sipping their wine in real glass and you can’t come in.
The longer we’re in a faith community the easier it is to forget what it was like to be “out”. We like our “in-ness” and we’re prone to judgment. It makes us feel just a tad superior.
We might never say it out loud, but to whom are we just a smidge less welcoming? Who do we, even subtly, make feel that they don’t quite belong? The single mom with the obnoxious kid? The guy who reeks of smoke and whiskey? The gay couple?
In the New Testament Jesus changes everything. Through Him everyone is in.
19-21 So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.
22-25 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. Hebrews 10:19-23
Are we disqualifying the people Jesus has invited in?
What if today, we thought back to when we felt on the outside? What if we remembered where we came from? When we once felt disqualified from God’s love?
I want so much to make this refrain about the church a reality: Everyone is welcome, no one is perfect, anything can happen.
So I’ve been using words like:
“I’m saving a place for you.”
“I’ve missed seeing you!”
“Have you met…?”
“So glad you came!”
Whether it’s at church or the office or at our kid’s soccer game, what are the things we can do to make others feel part of the party?
I’m grateful for insights included in this post from a great message about bad church experiences by Rodney Anderson. You should check it out!
Come back Wednesday for the last 10%!