When I use the word INCLUSION in the same sentence as CHURCH …many of you may immediately think of things like:
Oh yeah…we need to include the disheveled person, the ‘’lost’’, the sinner, the drunkard, the unusual, the unchurched, the backslidden, the drug addict, the homeless, the hungry…
… or perhaps you may think of yourself!
Do you feel included, embraced, like you belong and are an integral part of the Body?
Do you sense that Church is an inclusive place?
WHAT DOES INCLUSIVE MEAN ANYWAY?
Let’s look at the opposite to inclusive – exclusive…sometimes it’s easier to understand the opposite first.
Exclusion is: leaving out, a deliberate act of ostracisment, to be excluded from something, omitted, prohibited, left out in the cold. Have you ever felt excluded? Banished, disallowed, omitted, excommunicated, ignored, non-existent, of no merit or worth, expulsion, the act of forcing out someone or something….
I have – in my workplace. A long story short – excluded and ostracized, omitted to be included in everyday conversations, which affected my ability to do my work, interact with others, not able to be a part of the team….
it was purposeful and with deliberate intention, with a motive in mind – to get rid of me. There are people in workplaces that have their own agenda and if another comes in that ‘appears’ to threaten that agenda – look out….you are in the firing line…
In some workplaces, there are very good models for this kind of behaviour to be stopped and legal ramifications for bullying in the workplace however you and I know, that some people are very very good at covering their tracks…being sneaky and downright wicked….for their own gains. For me, it was a no win situation.
I resigned…even after discussing with management and requesting a formal complaint process..it was not worth the fight. I have better and more worthy battles to engage in, than that one. A worthy lesson in choosing my battles – thanks Lord!
Although, this did teach me, that there are many injustices that go unspoken, unfought, unknown and of which relate to exclusion and isolating someone.
So then, as a church, as a community – are we exclusive? Do we knowingly or unwittingly exclude people from our “FAMILY”… are we inclusive – all encompassing – firstly of each other and then of others?
What does inclusive mean?
Taking a great deal or everything within its scope
Including the specified extremes or limits as well as the area between them: the numbers one to ten, inclusive.
Ok then….just going back to the workplace as an example – there is a lot of money spent on Human Resources, training, legalities, inclusion and diversity documents which talk about things like bullying in the workplace, inclusive practices, appreciating diversity, team strategies, communication methods, conflict resolution, disciplinary processes and actions pertaining to non-compliance and procedures in the workplace. It all seems a bit over the top really… although…. perhaps we could take a couple of pages from the Human Resources Manual of some workplaces….since they may well reflect Jesus stance on inclusion.
Some of us may think that it is just so obvious and easy to be inclusive – if that were the case, why are our churches not full to the brim and over flowing…perhaps we would have each other in our homes more often,
Perhaps we would be more able to share the struggles and the joys of our lives lived in God, we would be more authentically open and accountable with ourselves, each other and those around us, that this community would see Who we belong to.
Yep…how inclusive are we really?
How much do we really want to share our lives with each other and then to ‘’ends of the earth’’?
This is a real challenge – this is how the world will know that we belong to God – be the way we LOVE one another… by the way we include one another!
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
By this it will be clear to all men that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.