by Jim Gordon
Why does the word inclusion make so many of us Christian people cringe?
We often want to only include our preferred group. People who think like us and have faith like us. If a person thinks differently, we feel you should stay in your own group with like-minded people, but leave us alone. Fortunately, many of us are changing our mind on such feelings.
We see this so much within Christianity with such a wide variety of denominations and interpretations of the Bible. Yet, I am not necessarily just talking about organized religion or institutional church, but accepting people in general in our daily lives.
When it comes to including people who we see as different from us aside from spiritual matters, it is even worse. African-American/White, LGBTQ/Straight, American/Foreign, Atheist/Muslim/Jew/Hindu and on it goes. We seem to think as believers in God, we need to separate ourselves from those who see things differently and should not associate with them.
Really, behind all the labels we put on people we are all basically the same, so why not associate and get to know people who we feel are different from us? We can learn from one another and get to know one another and find that we really are not all that different.
We see Jesus do this all the time when reading the gospels in the Bible. He did not differentiate people based on their religion, belief, lifestyle or nationality. He did not separate himself from those who thought, believed, looked and lived differently. He loved and respected all people.
Obviously, loving and accepting people does not mean we always agree nor are we always going to get along in life. Yet I believe it does mean treating others equally, respectfully, with kindness, acceptance and the love of God.
Inclusion is not a bad word. It is not a bad or unholy way to live. Inclusion is about ALL of us. Inclusion is about living full lives and about learning to live together. It makes the world our classroom for learning about our fellow human beings. Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community. It is about our abilities, our gifts and how to share them. Inclusion is the way of God and the way of showing the love of God to everyone.
Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: email@example.com