Thursday, January 7, 2016

Outside In - Martin Wiles

Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. Ephesians 2:11 NLT

Sometimes never being accepted is a reality I have to live with.

My family and I were always outsiders when I was growing up. Not because we were weird, unsociable, or had bad habits. Rather, because we hadn’t been born and raised in the particular city or town where my father was pastoring. Most others in the church were related and were lifelong residents. This made us outsiders. We were loved and appreciated, but if it came down to it, our preferences would be overruled or not considered because we were outsiders. Blood was thicker than water. 

As a pastor, my family faced the same scenarios. We loved church members and were loved by them, but in the end we were outsiders. We hadn’t been born there, and when the Lord called we would leave. Their mentality was understandable…even if it was never spoken.

Gentiles—anyone who wasn’t a Jew, were outsiders too. God chose the nation of Israel as his special people. He gave them rules, regulations, and ceremonies to abide by. The Gentiles weren’t part of the community unless they became a Jew in practice and belief. The division between them remained for thousands of years until after the birth of the church. In Christ, there was no distinction between Jew and Gentile. 

If I’m considered an outsider by God, it’s because I’ve chosen to remain separated from him. I can be an insider any time I choose by simply acknowledging his Son’s death and resurrection and accepting the forgiveness he offers. 

Because God gives me the opportunity to become an insider when I don’t deserve it, I should do the same for others. I can erect any number of walls to keep people out of my life, but God wants me to let them in as he does me. 

Being an outsider means I’m missing out on things the insiders are enjoying—or at least to the degree they are enjoying them. Love, understanding, membership privileges, forgiveness, kindness. God breaks down the wall of separation, and I should too.

Are there outsiders in your life who you need to invite in?

Prayer: Father, help us to love and include others as You love and include us. 

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