So how do we determine who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’?
I suspect the answer to this lies in the teaching of Jesus. Jesus said you will know my disciples because they love one another. Jesus taught his disciples to love their enemies. Jesus’ disciples are marked by love.
In my early days of being involved with YWAM there was a strong atmosphere of love. People were freely accepted. Perhaps it was because YWAM was interdenominational that doctrine wasn’t highly emphasised. It wasn’t that the foundations weren’t important but denominational distinctives weren’t important. People were accepted on their relationship with Jesus and taught to love others.
I see that Formal church has grasped this idea. However they use it to serve their own purpose. There is a subtly in the way this teaching is changed. It is in the way we define ‘loving others’. Loving becomes serving.
However, there is a difference between loving and serving. Many servants and employees have served without loving. There are many people ‘serving’ churches who do so in a way that is far from loving.
Church leaders claim they ‘serve’ the church by ‘leading’. Jesus never did this.
Teachers claim they are ‘loving’ by ‘teaching the truth’ – which can often be summed up as, belief what I belief or you are going to hell. This is anything but loving.
People ‘do’ fellowship /discipleship / connect / bible study / home groups rather than living with each other and loving one another. There is a strong relational aspect that needs to come into play if we are truly going to love one another. It isn’t merely going through the list of things to do in a gathering. It is being real about life, its sinful nature and failing and accepting the reality of other people’s lives. It is about knowing that Jesus’ grace is enough, despite the many thorns in our flesh, and encouraging with that, rather than condemning.
Unfortunately it is much easier to determine if people are ‘in’ or ‘out’ through having them tick off lists of things they believe and things they do rather than live with people and see how they love others.
What is important for Jesus is that people know him and they love others, through having an attitude of laying down all that this world deems is important.