We Are Included
What is your earliest memory of being excluded from something? For me, the first time i can remember feeling this way was as a teenager when my family moved from New York to Ohio. We moved to a small town where everyone had been in class and in youth group with the same kids since kindergarten, and it was obvious from day one that I would have to try really hard to be included. It was hard, and it hurt. All I wanted was to feel like I could be a part of things.
At our very core, even when we were little, we just want to be included. I’ve even seen this in my son, who is two years old. Before Christmas, we bought an amazon device called the echo look. You take a picture everyday of what you’re wearing and the app remembers your closet and gives you suggestions of what might go better together. Or if you’re in the mood to wear a black shirt, it can show you all the pictures you have in black shirts. If you know me at all, that probably makes you laugh, because I’m not exactly a fashionista. From the very beginning of having this device, I try to remember every morning before I leave for work to take the picture. Within the first few days of having it, my son picked up on what was happening, and he now insists on being included in every single picture I take.
Trust me, I know I look goofy, but I wanted you to have a visual of that sweet boy poking his head in…wanting to be included. He truly has no idea what the picture is for, or what is even happening, he just knows that he doesn’t want to be left out.
That feeling and that experience doesn’t stop when we become adults. There are most likely cliques in every environment you find yourself in, from work, to the gym, to friends, to social media….there are reminders everywhere we look of not being included.
When we look at the life that Jesus lived, He was different. He went out of his way to extend love where it wasn’t expected, often to the outcasts. He included everyone, especially those who had been excluded from the day they were born. The tax collectors, the demon possessed, the woman at the well, the sinful, the crippled.
In Romans 8:37-39, we read the apostle Paul’s words when he reminds us of just how unshakable and unstoppable Christ’s love for us is:
”For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God, which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I just want to ask….when you go to church, or read scripture, or talk to God, do you feel included? Do you feel like you’re invited into a relationship with Jesus, and that he desires that with you just as much as he does with the person sitting next to you? Maybe you think that surely the people around you are more deserving, or more holy, or perhaps they haven’t messed up as much as you………
I need you to hear me say again that Jesus has just as much love for you as he does for the next. Sometimes we live in a state of fear because we either don’t believe it’s true, or we trick ourselves into thinking we are powerful enough to make His love for us go away. Friends, we are not that powerful. There is nothing we can do that will cause us to be excluded from His love, and from the life we are meant to live. If we can start believing that about our own lives, imagine how differently we would spend our days, showing and telling others the same news.