We long to be invited. To be welcomed. To be included.
A few days ago, I had the experience of feeling left out. It was a painful feeling, one that I’m not a stranger to, but painful nonetheless. I spent the day trying not to be bitter or angry about missing the wedding of my best friend. I realized that I wasn’t mad, but I was sad. I longed to be a part of the celebration of two of my friends becoming one life. I longed to a part.
I think I recognized in that experience a basic human desire. We long to belong. To be a part. To be significant enough to other people that they would invite us along.
Yesterday, I heard a sermon about the second coming. It was a very normal sermon - about Christians not needing to worry about death, about the celebration that awaits with Christ, about the hope Christians have.
I hated the sermon. I was uncomfortable the entire time, because it was a sermon addressed to a church full of people who, so to speak, already had their invitations in their hand. I felt privileged and righteous, and it made me uncomfortable.
Don’t get me wrong - I celebrate the hope of salvation, the hope of the coming age. I cannot wait to meet my savior, who calls me by name, who has invited me through His grace to His table. To a wedding celebration. To a feast.
But I couldn’t help but think about the ones who weren’t invited yet. I couldn’t help thinking about how the sermon wasn’t an invitation, but instead it felt like a parade of our invites.
A couple of days ago, I felt left out. Because of my own baggage, this made me feel worthless, like I wasn’t important enough, like I didn’t matter. This was just a wedding. Just a simple wedding. And because of my story, it hurt. A lot. And I can imagine that if someone was in the church who hadn’t yet committed to Christ…. that sermon and what it represented probably hurt a lot more than my petty moment of feeling excluded.
My desire in ministry is to never make anyone feel excluded.
- Does that mean being theologically or biblically unsound? No.
- Does that mean that Christ is not the only Way, the only Truth, the only Light? No.
- Does that mean that we cannot celebrate in the hope of salvation together as the Body of Christ? No.
- Does it mean admitting that I am human and I may not understand everything? Yes.
- Does it mean extending hospitality to people who may be struggling or may have a story that doesn’t lend itself to trust or who may be courageous enough to be asking questions? Yes.
- Does that mean recognizing first the beauty in others, before noticing the differences? Yes.
You are invited. You matter. You can be included. You are wanted. You are beautiful. You are full of worth. Your story is necessary, important, and valuable.
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