“You can’t sit with us.”
Cheeks flush, eyes water, and any shred of dignity is squished like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at the bottom of a backpack. Thus begins an all-too-common struggle for people who were made to crave connection. It happens in the kindergarten class party. It happens in the high school lunch room. It happens in the teacher’s lounge. But have mercy on us if it ever, ever, ever happens in the church.
I’ve heard way too many stories lately of Jesus people not acting like Jesus people (and before I start sounding holier than thou, I have to keep my own heart soft to conviction). Division, gossip, selfishness, competition, hardheartedness—when did the redeemed begin acting like Regina George and co.?
Last week’s dwelling revolved around entering into community just for fun, getting to know the family of God. But I want to stress the need of getting to know the whole family of God, not just the members who look and think like us. Revelation weaves a picture of flourishing diversity around the throne of the Lamb. This is the way He longs to be worshiped. If we make it our business to push those out He brings in, where’s the grace evidence we’ve been changed? Have we been changed?
The only way the Church makes sense is through the lens of the gospel. There’s no other way on earth you could get this many individuals with political leanings, theological preferences, backgrounds, issues, and personality differences to thrive together. That’s the power of the cross in a world that clings to what’s comfortable and easy.
If we are to echo our Savior’s heart for His bride, it’s time we stopped saving seats and excluding “them” and protecting “us” and neglecting those Christ died to bring into this family. Barbara Brown Taylor says that murder can be “as subtle as purging someone from our circle of friends or as bloody as nailing someone to a tree.” Jesus loves His whole family. How dare we fracture it, spilling blood when enough has been poured out once for all?
The gospel is what brings us together; fear is what drives us apart. And perfect love casts out fear. The next time you’re tempted to gossip or ignore or even “just” harbor silent directional negativity, ask what you’re really afraid of. (It might be a legitimate concern, but since when do the people of God make any sense to the world?) Lay it and leave it at Christ’s feet and go ye therefore with the freedom of someone who has been loved recklessly. We are the only ones, after all, who have a perfect example of reconciliation living within us. Let’s begin applying it to those Jesus begged the Father to grow into one beautiful and bizarre creature—the Church.
It’s time for believers to lose the mean girl attitude and exchange it for something infinitely better: the unifying balm of grace. And it starts with you. You go, Glen Coco!