10th August 2017

You Are included 

“Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him…”
Luke 6:12-13 (NIV)

Jesus’ disciples were a motley crew. Even though He had prayed all night about the selection of His followers they had their issues:
Peter was rash, impetuous and denied Jesus.
Andrew, while bringing his brother Peter to meet Jesus, seems to be in his brother’s shadow.
James and John were nicknamed ‘the sons of thunder’ because of their fiery nature.
Philip seems to be full of questions about who Jesus was and what He had come to do.
Matthew was a despised tax collector; a collaborator with the occupying Romans and considered to be a traitor to his people.
Simon was a Zealot, hell-bent on overthrowing the Romans by violent means.
Thomas was full of doubt.
Judas Iscariot was a thief.
Bartholomew, James (son of Alphaeus) and Judas (son of James) are nondescript.
Add to these followers of Jesus, Paul who consented to murder, and Mary Magdalene who had seven demons cast out of her, and you have quite a bunch of people!

What all this tells me is that being a follower of Jesus includes everyone:
Are you rash and impetuous, have you denied Jesus? You’re included!
Are you living in someone else’s shadow? You’re included!
Do you have a fiery nature? You’re included!
Are you full of questions about Jesus? You’re included!
Are you despised and considered a traitor? You’re included!
Have you been violent? You’re included!
Do you have doubts about Jesus? You’re included!
Have you been a thief? You’re included!
Have you been involved in murder? You’re included!
Have you had problems with wrong spirits? You’re included!

These people followed Jesus despite all their issues, allowing him to transform their lives, and became part of the foundation of the Christian church. Mary Magdalene was privileged to be the first witness of Jesus’ resurrection and immediately evangelised. Even at the Last Supper, Jesus held out an offer of inclusion to His betrayer by washing his feet and eating with him. Sadly, rather than allowing Jesus to transform him, Judas Iscariot allowed his guilt to overcome him and committed suicide.

Jesus’ message is the same today as it was to his first disciples: “Come, follow me” (Matthew 4:19). Whoever you are, whatever your background, no matter what you’ve done, come and follow—you are included. Don’t be so consumed with guilt concerning whatever issues you may have that you give up on life. Jesus can transform lives. He turned a denier into a leader of the church, a ‘son of thunder’ into an apostle of love, a doubter into a believer, a murderer into an apostle of grace, and a woman possessed into evangelist. Jesus can do the same and transform your life. So why not take up the call to follow Him? After all, you too are included.

Prayer
Father, thank you for including everyone in your plans and purposes. Please work in us so that you are able to work powerfully through us to help others.
Amen

Study by Barry Robinson

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About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder in and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God London
Indian YMCA
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square
LONDON W1T 6AQ

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Martin Ryan
Phone: 07958 386944
Email:   martin_ryan@wcg.org.uk

Summer Educational Programme S.E.P. is a two-week summer activity camp that takes place on the bank of Loch Lomond, Scotland. It is sponsored and run by the Worldwide Church of God UK, a part of Grace Communion International. The camp is Christian in ethos but accepts campers from all denominations and faiths. For more information about S.E.P. visit www.sepuk.org

You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.