We've been talking about how God isn't looking for excuses to punish you or reasons to weed you out, but instead, he wants to help you become a good citizen of the kingdom. So, if God is more interested in what we're becoming than he is about who we are and what we've done, then maybe he's just generally more interested in our future than our past? Maybe he's less interested in our record - how we've responded to things previously - than he is about how we respond from here on out.
If that's true, part of me says, "That's great! It's all about what's next! It's all about potential!" But another part of me says, "Oh, dear. What if I don't do any better than I have? What if my future is just as messed up as my past?"
Good question. But maybe a better way to think about it is to remember that Jesus didn't just stroll into your life once you noticed him. You didn't call him out of retirement. The reason you noticed him is because he's been there all along; you just didn't notice him until you figured out what to look for. He's been at work in your life, and a huge part of your development as a Jesus follower - as a disciple - is noticing that. The first big step in your sanctification process - your God-directed forward movement - is this awareness that your future matters, both to you and to him.
With that understanding in your back pocket, the rest of your life is all about a kind of four-step process: engage - respond - correct - repeat. Prayerfully step out. Respond to things as best you can. Based on results, make prayerful corrections. Then do it all again. And again. If you keep this up, God will use you, grow you, and bless you.
It's not easy, but it's awesome.
Series Title: 7 THINGS
Message Title: God's not exclusive
Main Passages: Galatians 3:28
Some questions for reflection or group study (or please comment on them, below):
- In what ways have you felt excluded - in life - in the church?
- Does the idea that God is "inclusive" make you uncomfortable? If so, how? If not, why not?
- What -isms have you struggled with receiving or giving (racism? sexism? ageism? etc.)?
- How has your church family helped you with any of this?