Include or exclude? Which of these are we more prone to do?
Invite others to join us, or turn them away?
When I taught elementary students, each year I began the school year with an activity designed to get to know each other better.
I called it Train Wreck.
Here’s the basics of the activity.
We formed a circle with our chairs for the number of people in our class. Minus one chair.
To start the game one person stood in the middle of the circle. The goal of the activity was to tell something about yourself others in the group might have in common with you.
When the person in the circle mentioned their thing, those who shared it, including the person who said it, scrambled to find a new chair.
Those who didn’t share the same thing stayed put.
After the mad scramble to find a chair, whoever didn’t end up with a chair went to the middle of the circle.
The game began again until everyone had their chance in the middle of the circle. Including me.
Some of my students liked to stay inside the circle. To accomplish this they named some obscure thing that excluded everyone else in the class.
Something like … I have a six-year-old black cat with white paws named Obediah who’s missing two teeth. On the top.
Others who stepped into the circle named something that included more people.
Something like … I’m in Mrs. Quandt’s fourth grade class, room 28.
As you can imagine, it was much more fun when more people were included in the scramble.
I believe some of us may be like my students who enjoyed standing in the middle of the circle. We like to think we’re the center of attention. We like to have a monopoly on who we include or exclude in our scramble. We like to think we are superior.
Instead of saying something like, “I’m a child of the one true God, covered by the blood of the Lamb, sinner saved by grace,” which includes everyone claiming Jesus as Lord and King, we say something like, “I belong to such-and-such church on the corner of so-and-so street in the town of this-and-that. I attend the first service, sit on the back row, left side, on the end.”
The more exclusive, we falsely believe, the better.
Do you believe that’s the way God looks at his children?
I believe Jesus includes all of us who claim him as Lord to be a part of his very large family no matter who we are or what our cat’s name might be.
After all, Train Wreck’s a lot more fun when everyone participates in the scramble.
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So you guys, go all ova da world an teach all da diffren peopos, so dey can learn bout me an come my guys. Baptize dem, an dey goin come tight wit my Fadda, an me his Boy, an Godʼs Good an Spesho Spirit. Teach um how fo do everyting dat I wen tell you guys fo do. An you know wat? I goin stick wit you guys all da way, till da world goin pau.”
Matthew 28:19-20 Hawai’i Pidgin (HWP)
Confused? Try this version…
So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you, and I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NCV)
I wish you well.
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