Outsiders

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Jesus said, “There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian." When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way. — Luke 4. 27-30

When Jesus preached his message of the universal inclusiveness of God's love—that God would heal a pagan foreigner—those who wanted “insiders” and “outsiders” were threatened. So those who moments before had approved of Jesus as one of their own quickly made him into an outsider.

We all need to feel that we Belong and that the Universe approves of us. And it's natural (original, actually: original sin) to believe that there's a reason for that, not just God's grace. It's hard not to suppose there's something about us that makes us more worthy than others. Of course someone who seems less worthy messes up our system and threatens our security. So we compare. We don't just judge and oppose those who threaten our sense of belonging and approval, we also want to get them out of our way: to eliminate them. Slamming the door on someone, cutting off a relationship, executing someone, genocide—they all come from the same spirit.

We all have a different set of people that we want to drive out of town: gays or gay-bashers, terrorists or corrupt CEOs, the people who annoy or offend us. But the impulse is the same. As we resist evil and injustice the real challenge is to stay in relationship with the people we want to eliminate. To bless those who curse us, and pray for those who abuse us. This doesn't mean staying in an abusive relationship. But it does mean staying in the human family, and letting others, even the demon-possessed, stay here, too. There is always Christ in the ones we want to reject. And he always slips through the midst of us and goes on his way.

As Jesus points out, it's the outsiders God blesses first.

Deep Blessings, Pastor Steve

_______________________________ Copyright (c) 2010 Steve Garnaas-Holmes unfoldinglight(at)hotmail.com