Growing up, the eldest in a preacher’s family, sometimes left me feeling like an outsider, looking with curious and fearful eyes on what it meant to be “in the world but not of it.” Fundamentalists urged a significant number of Don’ts, usually reinforced by “Would you want to be doing that, when Jesus returns?” Doesn’t take much imagination to see how limiting life could be for some of us, or how rebellious.
This morning as I read Eugene Peterson’s introduction to the Gospel of Luke in The Message, my mind went back to those we excluded through fundamentalism or fear and now, through a politicized evangelicalism.
The following summaries and quotes are from Peterson’s introduction:
“Outsiders v. Insiders. Who hasn’t felt like an outsider? Often we deal with it by forming a club where we belong. Clubs can be political, social, cultural, economic, but all have one thing in common…exclusion.”
“The terrible price we pay for keeping all those other people out so that we can savor the sweetness of being insiders is a reduction of reality, a shrinkage of life.”
“Nowhere is this price more terrible than when it is paid in the cause of religion. But religion has a long history of doing just that, of reducing the huge mysteries of God to the respectability of club rules, of shrinking the vast human community to a membership. But with God there are no outsiders.”
“Luke is a most vigorous champion of the outsider. An outsider himself, the only Gentile in an all-Jewish cast of New Testament writers, he shows how Jesus includes those who typically were treated as outsiders by the religious establishment of the day: women, common laborers (sheepherders), the racially different (Samaritans), the poor.”
Jesus says to all, “Come.”
How do I say, Keep Out?
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