by Glen Edward Quiring
Jesus included others. It was, perhaps, this habit more than any other that made his life and teaching distasteful to the religious authorities. He ate with sinners, was unafraid to touch the unclean, and defied the religious mandates. This habit of acceptance has been lost in many faith communities.
I grew up in a Christian tradition that valued conformity rather than acceptance. In this, we behaved more like the religious authorities of first century culture rather than Jesus himself. For example, in my tradition, it is not uncommon to hear parents bemoan the reality that their children don't live within the doctrines of the faith community they were raised in. I'm thinking, particularly, of a common phrase, "my son/daughter don't know the Lord". My heart breaks when I hear this
Can it be that in saying that our children don't know the Lord might we be saying that Jesus is really unknown in our homes? Might we be saying that the first priority of the child is to accept the tradition or the doctrine of the parents in order to be accepted? When we say our children don't "know the Lord" aren't we really saying that we don't accept them?
Perhaps this is the reason the Christian church is shrinking in North America. Our children leave church - not because is is irrelevant - but because they have been alienated first in their homes? Is there any point in further alienating themselves in a larger community?
If this reflects our actual situation, our homes and our churches have become profound places of Godlessness. Where the presence of Jesus becomes a reality, there too, does the very basic reality that God accepts all who are present. Our families - our homes - become places of inclusion and embrace where the life of Jesus is present.
Many churches exclude others in principle and reality (see, for example, the churches insistence on cognitive ascent to a set of doctrines before they are worthy to enter into communion). This indicates that we are not willing to radically include others (like our children) as people worthy of love.
If it is time to embrace the community for Jesus, this reality must first become a radical reality in our homes.
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