Exclusive or Inclusive or Both?

Acts 15:19 observes that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.image

Whenever we start something new we have to define what it is so we can name it and then determine who is in and who is out. The Christians had this dilemma when starting the Church.

They began by calling themselves The Way, since Jesus claimed to be the Way to heaven and the fulfillment of the Jewish religion as the Way to God and the Way of God. They were first called Christians by pagans because they always mentioned the Christ, this name stuck so that is what they became known as.

The question quickly arose among them for a proper definition of Christian.

This question caused much debate but was initially settled by the leaders who were the original disciples of Jesus. The definition decided upon was quite inclusive rather than exclusive no doubt to the consternation of the purists.

This is the lesson for us.

God is quite inclusive in His actions though the invitation He gives us to Himself is quite exclusive.

God is inclusive in that He created everyone, is willing to pardon anyone who comes to Him for reconciliation, and demonstrated His love for everyone through His sacrifice on the cross. God is exclusive in that He alone through Jesus the Savior is to be worshiped and obeyed.

As followers of the Way who are called Christians we have a tendency to want to control membership as well as entrance into our exclusive club. We need to be like the first disciples and make things as easy as possible for people to enter into our discussion about Jesus as Savior of all and Lord of all.

We need to trust God through His Holy Spirit to convict and conform those who truly seek Him to the living and thinking standards He requires.

Certainly God uses the Church to reveal Himself i.e.. those in authority to teach us what His Word says and means but He requires the Church to do so in a manner that keeps people hungry and thirsty for Him. The goal of our engagement should be an increasing love for Jesus fostered in everyone.

Religion has a propensity to stifle joy, worship and inclusivity where as love, humility and service foster relationship, receptivity and reciprocity.

Conviction of truth, the exclusivity of Jesus, must be framed within the inclusivity of love so that all might come to follow Jesus.

Jesus never compromised His perfect holiness while being a friend of sinners.

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