This Lent, we’ve considered the question “Who is welcome in the grace of God?” It is a question that has been asked for centuries, and continues to be asked today. Over the course of time, my own thoughts on the matter have changed. This change did not come suddenly, but happened over many years. There are folks who I was once convinced were out, but who now I am sure are in.
Oh, I could still tell you the Bible verses that argue for keeping them out. But I’ve also realized there are Bible verses that keep just about any of us out. And I’ve grown to see that the Bible isn’t a rule book to settle all questions for all times; it’s rather a conversation among the people of God, a conversation that is on-going and continuing. Through this conversation, there are new things to be learned. As Jesus said to his disciples the night before he died, “I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; . . . he will declare to you all the things that are to come.” (John 16:12-13)
And as I have come to see the Bible in a new way, I have come to see people I once considered to be “out” in a new way. I stopped looking at stereotypes, and started looking at people as individuals.
And in some I had labeled “outsider,” I saw faith in Christ deeper than mine. And I saw a commitment to the Church that exceeded my own. And I saw love for others that puts my weak love to shame.
In light of all that, I can no longer say, “You’re out; I’m in.”
I found—and am continuing to find—that God’s grace is much larger than anything I can begin to imagine. This inclusionary grace is one of the wonders of Easter. And for that I say, “Thanks be to God!”
Thank you, Lord God, for opening our eyes to the vastness of your grace. Amen.