In high school, people thought of some groups of people as the “in-crowd.” Some of these people might have thought of themselves as popular, and above others in social status. There was a sort of elitism which went along with this type of thinking. In some circles and situations, people were left out, avoided, ignored, abandoned, and ostracized. Some people were mocked, made fun of, and shamed because they did not have what others had or did not look like others did.
In the church, we have to be careful not to have “in-crowds.” There are times when friends or groups may exclude others, because they do not dress the same or have the same spiritual convictions as they do. It is true that some people become friends because they have more in common, and we do not have to be friends with everyone around us. However, we need to be intentional about inviting other people into our group or circle, so as to not exclude or hurt someone because they do not feel accepted and wanted.
I remember when I was a teenager, and I was severely mocked, avoided, and made fun of at church. My father had a different culture and belief system, and this was not accepted in the church. I remember girls making fun of me, and I remember crying to my mother because I did not feel accepted or wanted as a friend. It hurt. Fortunately, I have always felt loved and accepted by my family and God. I knew that I was different. I knew that I was not like everyone else, and I have learned to be okay with that.
The Church should be a place where people from all backgrounds and cultures can find strength, encouragement, friendship, and acceptance. The Church is for all people. We need every language, culture, and different personality to grow and reach people. We can reach a more diverse crowd of people when we become diverse, and accept our differences instead of allowing our fears to hold us back. Fear can be a driving force for exclusion, but Jesus came to bring love instead of the spirit of fear. Jesus came to bring people together. When the church becomes a place where people are rejected we have lost the mission of the Church. People are the mission of Jesus Christ.
Not everyone is going to be the same. People will have different leadership styles and personalities. People will talk and dress differently. People will laugh differently, and will plan events differently. The point is that God made each of us in our own way, and we need to be who God has created us to be. If we try to be anyone else, we are saying to God, “Why have you made me like this?” We are not accepting God’s creation. We are rejecting the Creator.
I remember one time in my life when I felt really down and sad. I felt like a particular group of people were intentionally rejecting me. I felt like they were purposely trying to hurt me. It hit a big scar I had from my childhood. I felt like giving up. I felt like quitting. The next day I got into a conversation with a stranger. We were talking, and she began to prophesy to me. I could hear the voice of God through her. She told me that no matter what, and regardless of rejection, I had to follow my calling. She told me I could not give up. I was humbled after I left the conversation, because the night before I had told God I could not continue on in my calling. I had told God it was too difficult. I had told God I was done. God heard my cries, and sent a total stranger my way to bring a message to my heart and mind. God told me “You cannot give up. You must follow your calling.”
As people of God, we need to include others and accept them for who they are. We need to love people. We need to stop trying to control everyone. I often find women who have not had power in their lives can be some of the most controlling people out there. They take a program over, and they never listen to others, because they are so controlled by their own need for power and acceptance. Stop trying to grab a hold of power, and grab a hold of Jesus and unity. Stop fighting and causing discord, and pray for peace. Stop trying to be a superhero, and recognize Jesus is the only superhero we will ever need. It is not all about you and your “kingdom.” In the end, you will be responsible for the way you have treated the people of God. I will always remember the scripture in Matthew 25:34-40.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (ESV).”
Copyright 2014 Crystal Schmalz Ministries