Friday, June 6, 2008
Read this passage at Bible Gateway.
It always feels weird, being the outsider looking in at a closed-off group that knows each other, has their own in-jokes, their own traditions, their own place and purpose. It feels weird, and lonely, and it stirs up an ember of envy in your stomach. "I want to be part of that group," you think. "I want to belong."
But you can't -- the membership requirements are too strict, too impossible, too lengthy. You end up being the poor begger on the sidewalk looking wistfully through a window at rich country club patrons eating their $200 meals.
Except, of course, when it comes to Christianity. Jesus accepts everyone into his fold -- the screw ups, the weirdos, the imperfect, the sinners, the beggers, the broken, the ugly, the scarred. He doesn't do it to boost membership numbers or fleece millions of dollars or because he wants cult-like control over followers. He does it out of love.
And how does he do it? Previously, the "membership requirements" into the God Club were almost severely strict. You had to be a Jew, or if not, circumcized and following Jewish law. Yet even the law seemed so tough and rigid that few people could be assured of their right place in God's eyes. Along comes Jesus, who abolishes the membership requirements, not with a word, but with his very own flesh. His blood paves a path to forgiveness for even the most messed up person. The law still stands, but with his blood covering us, we now pass the requirements for God's righteousness.
Thus, the outsider now can become the insider, with as little as a sincere prayer and repentance. We become "citizens", with a place of our very own, with a purpose of God's choosing. How cool is that?