Again, I don’t think I am stating it too strongly when I say that with respect to any church I have served, that there have typically been two types of folks in conservation with Jesus on any given Sunday – insiders and outsiders. The insiders tend to know, or we think we know, a lot about religion; we think we have all the answers. But, as is often depicted in the Gospels, we are the ones who are confused by Jesus, who try to put him in a box, only to be surprised when he uncovers how little we know him.
On the other hand, the outsiders, like the Samaritan woman at the well, don’t know much about religion, which is not a bad thing; and they don’t know how the church works, again not a bad thing. Indeed, sometimes outsiders can feel as if they are inadequate, or second-rate, because of insiders like us.
This is strange because the Gospels bend over backwards to show that Jesus seeks out and leans toward people on the edges. In fact, I don’t think it is too far off base to say that if we are to judge a church biblically, we are to do so by how many outsiders it gathers to worship on a Sunday. If, when we come to worship, and we have nothing but people like me as an insider, then we are not the church that Jesus gathers, at least according to the New Testament.
How might we share in God’s mission to seek out, welcome, and share Christ’s mercy? What kind of people do we need to be to engage in conversation with persons who might not see how we are to love God and neighbor?
Pastor Andy Kinsey