Friday, January 13, 2012


Last Sunday's lesson actually came from a question a friend asked me to deal with. Since it caught me at a good time - between sermon series, I decided to put my thoughts together and share with the whole family. The question was: How do you want the members of your church to view outsiders?
It was intriguing on a couple of levels. First, how do we define insiders and outsiders? And secondly, as children of God, do we or should we treat one different than the other? The first challenge I saw was the problem of our biblical mandate to draw closer together in a loving, intimate family support group. That is what the church (local and gathered) exists to do. The nature of a family is that some are in it an some aren't. We are part of our physical family by birth, by choice, and/or by invitation. Our spiritual family is the same. God invited us, He chose us and we chose Him, and we were added to His family at our new birth. BUT - more than anything else - we are family by the grace of God! If we are insiders - it's about His grace not our worthiness. That means that others/outsiders are not "less important" or "worthless"! That must never be the way we think of them. The bottom line is that we must think of outsiders the way Jesus would think of outsiders.
How did Jesus view outsiders? A quick look at the Prodigal son (Lk.15), the parable of the feast (Lk.14), and remembering His encounter with the woman at the well (Jn.4) gives us a very clear picture. It's a picture of loving, longing for, and reaching out to everyone. In fact, these examples from the Gospels teach us that many who saw themselves as insiders really weren't!
There are a least three things that we should consider when we ask ourselves how we should look at outsiders:
1. We must look at them as people who need compassion not judgment!
2. We must look at them as people who need a witness not an arm twisting!
3. We must look at them as people who need to see Jesus not religion!
The word "outsider" only appears three times in the New Testament NIV and they all deal with being a good influence on them and representing God appropriately. Remember, Jesus was the ultimate insider and the religious world declared him and outsider!

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