The World's Most Inclusive Man
"Never be thirsty, My friends." (John 4:14)
"You'd be welcome to join us," the Hallowe'en street party organizer told Pastor Barry recently. "We're very inclusive, you know."
"Inclusive" is one of the great politically correct watchwords of the 21st Century. Organizations, governments, businesses, individuals go to great effort to show how much they are open to people of all races, cultures, ages and lifestyles. Now, here’s a word from the Man who set the standard for inclusiveness:
... him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me.
Do you know where those statements come from? They’re from the Bible, and they’re the words of Jesus Christ (the first is in the Gospel According to John (ch. 6, verse 37) and the second is in the Book of Revelation (ch. 3, v. 20)).
Here’s another: They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. That’s from Matthew, ch. 9, v. 12 (Mark and Luke also record it).
Are we not all “sick” in some way? Wouldn’t we all like to be well?
Here’s what the Apostle Paul had to say about “inclusiveness”: There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Letter to the Romans, ch. 10. v. 12-13)
“Lord over all” ... “rich unto all” ... “whosoever” ... can’t get much more inclusive than that! (When Paul refers to “the Greek”, he’s talking about people outside of “God’s chosen people” – the Jews. In other words, as far as God’s concerned, we’re all the same.)
The Prophet Isaiah wrote, more than 700 years before Jesus came: Thus saith the Lord ... mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people ... yet will I gather others to Him, beside those that are (already) gathered unto Him. (ch. 56, v 4-8 – edited.)
Inclusive? God wrote the book!
Businesses, organizations, etc., tend to have a vested interest in being “inclusive” – good PR, grant eligibility, among other things. But God’s interest is simple: He made us, He loves us and He wants nothing but the best for us. His Word promises that as we draw close to Him, we can expect healing, prosperity and most of all ... HOPE.
Without HOPE, why bother trying to stand against the drugs and the booze and the mistakes of the past that bring us to a destitute state? Without HOPE, why bother trying to live? And yet our greatest hope comes when we finally admit that we have no hope – we can change nothing in our own strength. But once we surrender and say, “Lord, I can’t do this – it’s up to You!”, something miraculous starts to happen. God sends a message that He’s got it covered and you can stop worrying.
The Bible tells us of a woman named Hannah, who was unable to have children. It hurt her more than anyone could imagine: she couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, cried often. One day she went up to the temple to pray and basically pour out her heart to God, begging Him to give her a child. Once she prayed – with some affirmation from the priest Eli – she went back home with a smile on her face and started eating again. Within a year, she had a baby – one of the greatest Prophets of them all, Samuel.
That is hope. Hannah was no more pregnant when she left the temple than when she went in, but she had handed off the situation to God and left Him to sort it out; as far as she was concerned, it was a done deal. That same kind of hope is available to us, just by handing off our problems, our situations and even our past slip-ups to God.
What does God expect from us? This is My commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you. (John’s Gospel, ch. 15, v. 12) That’s it: love God above everything, and love others ahead of yourself – the way Jesus loves us.
It’s a pity that many people think that you have to be “perfect” or “ready” to be with Jesus. Look what Jesus said about the “sick”: He doesn’t expect us to be “well” when we come to Him. Making us “well” is His job. (In fact, God requires us not to worry about ourselves and how “bad” or “good” we are, and instead look outward – towards Him and towards the people around us.)
Want to know more? Pick up a Bible and read for yourself. God gave us His Word on paper so we can all know what He wants from us and what we can expect from Him – and it’s a two-way conversation. You don’t have to go to a guru, bend yourself into uncomfortable shapes, whack yourself with a flatiron or pay one red cent. If you find something strange or contradictory, you’re not alone, but don’t worry: it’s just God’s way of keeping the conversation going.
The Holy Ghost ... shall teach you all things. (John 14:26)
We give out Bibles at Gospel Mission (when we have them) because we know that once people taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34), they don’t want anything else. We’ve been serving up God’s Word, straight no chaser, since 1929. And we see results: people find hope, get happier, move forward with their lives. People who felt they were rejected learn that they’re good enough for Jesus.
Now that’s “inclusive”!