Are You in the Club?

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world . . .  Ephesians 2:11-12 (KJV)

Picture this: ten young men (twenty-something) are standing in line at the drug store around 10:00 PM. The young men are brimming with excitement, because they are headed to a local club to dance, meet people, and have a good time. Every young man in line has a bottle of alcohol, except the last. He has a bottle of Hawaiian Punch! His friends laugh and tease him while in line, offering him a bib (as if he were a baby), and asking him if he is “old enough to hang out with adults!” 

You might have guessed, the young man with the fruit punch was me. I stood my ground, and took my ribbing like a man, but it was tough. I would be less than honest if I told you that I hadn’t considered grabbing a beer so that I could fit in with the fellas! (And you thought peer pressure was only for teenagers!)

Why do I bring this up? Well, for a variety of reasons. I could talk about how important it is to embrace the new person at work. I could encourage you to stay on the path that God set before you, and not to give in to temptation or the pressure of others. I could even tell you that as Christians, you are to be peculiar, because the Bible says that we are to be a peculiar people. Rather, I’d like for you to think about this the next time you enter you’re church for morning service.

One day, if it hasn’t happened already, somebody will come into church not dressed like you, not talking like you, not thinking like you, and maybe not even smelling like you. It is your (and my) responsibility to embrace them into the family of God. One day, someone new to the church will sit in the seat that you occupy every Sunday, and you (and I) have to make sure that it is okay. One day, someone may wander into Sunday school or Bible class whom you have never seen before. It is up to us to welcome them. 

In the scripture above, Paul reminds the Gentiles at the church of Ephesus that they were once “outsiders.” He reminds them that people used to look at them as second-class citizens, and that they have to make sure that they remember that feeling, and vow to make sure that no one else ever feels that way because of them. He cautions the church to remember what it was/is like to not fit in, and challenges us to make sure, to the best of our ability, that we make no one feel that way. 

There are no outsiders in the family of God. There is no one thing that may have been done in your life or mine that God cannot forgive. There is nothing wrong with wearing your best to church, even if your best is not my best. For those of you reading this who feel like you are on the outside, know that we all once felt that way, and it is okay. For those of you on the inside, open the door of the building and of your heart, and embrace those who are new to the fold. And remember that yesterday, last week, last month, last year, that the one on the outside, was you!

Lord, I thank you, for making me a part of your family. I thank you for accepting my best, and helping me to do better. I pray that you would give me the spirit of unity, and a mind that seeks to tear down walls, rather than build them up. I pray that you would help to give me a mind to treat everyone the same way that you treat me. Amen.