29th January 2013

You’re Included-And so Is Everybody Else!

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:10 (NIV)

‘You’re Included’ is the title of a GCI media ministry that seeks to spread the ‘good news that God loves you, wants you, and includes you in Jesus Christ’.  (www.gci.org/media/youre-included)  I believe this title was carefully chosen to broadcast a little known fact that everyone is embraced into the triune family of God, and this means me, you and the rest of the world—everyone who has ever lived and who will ever live before the return of Christ.

With today’s population estimated at 7.090 billion as of 9th January 2013, and forecast to be over 9 billion by 2050 … well, that’s a lot of people. If we consider the ‘Monkeysphere’ where it is said each of us is able to conceptualise a group of 150 people, or Dunbar’s number of 148 which suggests a limit to the number of people with whom we can maintain stable social relationships, then the concept that God loves the whole world, (John 3:16), can be rather mind boggling. Even the ‘friendliest’ of Facebook members rarely reaches the 1,000 mark. But then our mind is not God’s mind (1 Corinthians 2:11)… yet, rather a work in progress! (Philippians 2:5)

The familiar 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us “He wants all people to be saved and to learn the truth.’ (God’s Word Translation.) But what about us as individuals? Are we inclusive in our daily lives of people we may touch at some point throughout the day? People at work; people at the supermarket; people on the bus; people we pass in the street; people at church; people in class? Paul urges us to emulate Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 11:1. This is not suggesting we physically interact with everyone we come across during the day, but rather an open attitude of mind that recognises that everyone we associate with, willingly or reluctantly, is a potential new creation, and child of God. It’s about God’s grace and inclusivity to all.

Are there ‘sectors’ of society we perhaps don’t feel especially inclusive toward? Loving those we would not naturally choose to include amongst our friends is difficult. Consider the example of Jesus Christ telling Zacchaeus, the hated chief tax-collector in Luke 19, that he was going to have dinner with him that night. Others looking on were appalled. The Bible does not tell us to condone inappropriate behaviours or actions – far from it, 1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 12:26, 4:14-15 tell us to ‘flee from evil’, and take care who we spend time with. Yet neither are we to condemn people, for all have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23).

For those reading this, are there people in this world that you choose not to include, either unconsciously or on purpose … for example, prostitutes, gay people, criminals, murderers, rapists, Muslims, non-Christians. Or perhaps less obvious, e.g. people from different social classes; vegetarians/vegans; sedentary people; hypochondriacs; disabled people; those with mental illness, those who disagree with our opinions. The list of labels is endless, but the answer is simply one:  Love each other as I have loved you, said Jesus, This is my command (John 15:12).

Lord God, thank you for including me.  I pray your Spirit leads me to include everybody else and love them as you love me.

Study by Irene Tibbenham

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One Response to “29th January 2013”

  1. Stewart Raeburn on January 29th, 2013 2:11 pm

    Very helpful ,gets to the heart of the matter

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