August 20th, 2008 Posted in writing

Insider and outsider are two common ways that people think of themselves and others. It seems a natural human trait that we define ourselves by who we admit into our lives and who we keep out. Sometimes the walls that separate insiders from outsiders are high and solid, while at other times they are lower or have openings that allow for easy movement between sides. But as long as there are walls, there is some separation between insiders and outsiders.

But what would it be like if there were no walls and everyone was an insider? Differences would still exist, no doubt, but we would see them as assets rather than threats. Amazingly, that was precisely St. Paul’s view of the church: one body having many different members with different gifts for the building up of the whole community. And Jesus made the non-exclusionary sharing of food a hallmark of his ministry, welcoming to his table both “sinners” and the “righteous” precisely because God, their Creator and Father, loves both.

In the community of Christians, everyone is an insider, and that is meant to disclose how the whole world should be. The degree to which we (as individuals and as communities) let people into our lives shows how well we’ve understood the Kingdom of God and the behavior it asks of us in our personal, familial, political, social, cultural, and economic lives.

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