What does it mean to belong? What does it mean to be invited in? What does it mean to be cast out?
Jesus had a funny way of redefining community. He chose to associate with the “unclean” to the consternation of the “clean”, he welcomed the unwelcome, he befriended the friendless, he identified with the alienated. In the gospels we read:
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:11-13)
In other words, for Jesus in was out and out was in. You’re not an insider with God unless you’re for outsiders with God. Consider your own community or social network. How does it compare to this? Are you up for a challenge? I think Jesus still has some surprises for us.
2 thoughts on “Out is In, In is Out”
As a friend of mine wrote, long ago:
Religion attracts – Christ offends, and goes on offending; on the cross, in loneliness, Christ bore the penalty of the offensiveness of God, when God took the offensive. Gesthemane, and the cry of dereliction (Mark 14:32 ff; 15:34), are the most completely self-authenticating points in the gospel, for no one who wanted to invent a new religion could possibly have devised them, and they show the cost of religion to God, for it was religion that put Christ on the cross, religious authorities who couldn’t face the fact that the dream had come true, that the future had
become present, who couldn’t face the judgement of God on a religion that divided man from man, righteous from sinner. Christ drew the line at no one, and paid the cost of doing so. If you draw the line at anyone, Christ will be on the far side, and not on yours. `Christ wants no honour for himself as long as our brother is dishonoured’9 – what a question-mark this puts against every single act of Christian worship!
The quote “Christ wants no honour for himself” is from Bonhoeffer’s “Life together”
I like the point you raised about worship, Steve Hayes. One’s whole life could be considered worship, not just what is done in the company of fellow believers at special gatherings. Many of the prophets in the OT pointed out the hypocrisy of temple-style worship in the face of the injustice meted out in the “marketplace” of life. I think Jesus showed us how to live a life consistent in relationship to God and with each other as human beings.
Religion, per se, is a good thing “the binding together” for a whole identity and lifestyle. It’s false/stultifying religious practise that is the problem.
As far as taking sides is concerned, there is a line drawn, I must admit that, for me, Christ IS the liminal threshold, The Door to life worth living/abundant life/life to the full. Perhaps it’s all of us who need to make sure we are on God’s side regarding all matters, not for God to be on our side for things that matter only to us…