Let’s talk about inclusivity and the church.
And let’s not talk about how any one people group needs to be included more than any other; we progressive Christians have harped on that long and loud enough. If we truly believe in a God whose charge to us was a ministry of reconciliation, then we cannot get big heads about being inclusive while continuing to excise certain individuals and groups from the table. It’s become vogue to talk about inclusivity, but what does inclusivity really mean? There will always be a group that isn’t getting their fair share of the shalom of God, and our missional obligation is to right this imbalance of embrace in order to ensure that all people are welcome at the banquet table.
See what I said there? All people need to be welcomed at the banquet table of Christ. And the movement of embrace is the most powerful prophetic witness that we have. It is in embrace that evil is disarmed and hearts once opposed to one another are transformed into hearts that love one another. It is in the movement of embrace that God has embraced us in Christ, even in the midst of suffering the worst that humanity has to offer. The movement of embrace says to our oppressors, I forgive you, and to the ones oppressed, please forgive me. It requires humility, and in fact may be humiliating. Actually, it is humiliating, because Christ’s embrace of all humanity came from arms stretched out by an instrument of torture and a whispered and weary “Father, forgive them.”
Embrace welcomes the weeping Peter back into the fold.
Embrace welcomes the thief into paradise.
I would even go so far as to say that embrace can welcome Judas into the kingdom of God.
And Christ-bearing embrace, if we practice it in our lives, can welcome our Peters, our thieves, our Judases into the kingdom of God with us. Embrace can heal the world.
If we practice the movement of embrace, who will we find at the altar rail alongside us? In whom will we find Christ extending a hand, an opportunity to welcome and be welcomed? Do we have the boldness to take Christ’s hand in the other and ask them to dine with us? God help us that we would be so bold as to trust in the ministry of reconciliation which we have been given.