Inclusive Church or Free for All?


There is a call across the denominations for inclusivity in the Christian Church.  It sounds like a perfectly reasonable request.  Did not the Apostle Paul say, “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7)?  Shouldn’t all be welcomed in the Church?  Of course. 

The problem is that inclusion is not synonymous with acceptance.  The Church has been given God’s commandments for God’s people according to Holy Scripture.  We cannot turn a blind eye to that which we have been forbidden, even when we desire to live without strife and the burden of calling out sin.  Christ calls us to himself, but he also calls us to accountability.  Existence in Christ is not a free for all.  We are held accountable for living according to God’s will.  This includes not partaking in that which God, according to God’s wisdom, has prohibited for us.  I do not know why we have been told not to do certain things.  I do know what we have been told to avoid, what not to do.  In spite of any personal desires and inclinations, I have to live as God calls me to live because I value a relationship with God over getting my way.

We should expect that we are to be welcomed into the doors of any church just as we are.  The mistake is to assume that we should leave that way.  Like that rough, unrefined piece of sand that enters the oyster shell, over time it is transformed and revealed as a polished pearl.  Likewise as individuals we enter into the religious community of the Church and should expect, and pray for, transformation.  No one enters into the Church free from sin.  No one enters in perfect.  We come as sinful, imperfect beings and, according to Christ’s will, we should be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit and perfected in God’s love.  This is no instantaneous change, but one that takes place over time.  It is long, laborious, but yet the will of God.  Just as the people refused to be the first to condemn the adulteress, we within the Church should not cast stones upon those who enter into our midst, but echo the words of Jesus Christ to her: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again” (John 8:11).  Sin enters, but only salvation should depart the doors of the Church.

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