It’s taken a while, but I have finally made it to the final period of Jamie Arpin-Ricci‘s book, The Cost of Community. As someone who likes to interact with a book while reading, I nearly bleed dry my pen underlining and scribbling in the margins. There is much to be challenged by in these pages. As I came to the close of the book there was one such underline that gripped tighter than the others. Listen.
…our primary focus should not be policing who is or is not welcome in our communities, but rather we should focus on creating communities in which the fragile but promising beliefs and hopes of others have the best opportunity to be rooted and thrive.
If we as the Church (note the big “C”) are going to position ourselves to be agents of redemption to the world, we must stop drawing lines so deep in the sand, as to exclude some from having an opportunity to hear God’s truth and to experience God’s love. True Christian community isn’t about defining who’s in and who’s out. We’re all “out” but by the grace of God, remember. True Christian community is about creating space for the truest of sinners to find hope and grace and redemption in Christ. If we position ourselves in the way of such community, knowingly or unknowingly, then shame on us. For that’s not our right or our calling or our position.
As a pastor in a community that is trying to figure out what it means to be people of redemption, I’ll often hear the cry from those “within” that say too much attention and emphasis is being spent on those “outside” the church. As if to suggest that they are somehow being under cared for, or are being neglected. Remember, the call is to go forth, not stay home. If you’re already “in” guess what? You’re not allowed to stay. You have to go out. The Church was never intended to be a people who merely sit and soak. It was and is intended to be a people who go and do likewise.
So Church, the time to get up and go and do is upon you (it’s been upon us). What’s your response?