My bouncing, bubbly kindergartner stepped off the bus with a smirk on her face. I expected to hear the same thing I'd heard for three weeks - news of a playground crush and elementary marriage proposals. But her news of the day came unexpected:
"I'm in the club! I'm with a bunch of other girls too!"
Club? Oh yes - clubs. I remember them well.
Immediately (and selfishly) I celebrated on the inside: MY KID IS LIKED! YES!
But then my 30-year-old maturity set in - maturity I unfortunately learned the hard way. Her inclusion most likely meant someone else's rejection. Her joy was another's sorrow.
We sat down to talk about clubs and why it's important to join clubs where everyone is invited, not just some. We talked about treating others how you want to be treated. Between her wiggles and fidgets she nodded as if she understood.
I prayed that was the case.
With a young heart longing to belong, I knew sacrificing popularity was a tough ask. I hoped she could do it.
The next day when she bounced off the bus, a smirk appeared once again. I fully expected to hear about the exclusive club she'd joined once again.
But the news changed. She'd left the club and started her own - one where everyone was invited.
Although most adults outgrow playground "clubs," we often form our own versions. Whether it's social settings, cultural differences or life experiences, we quickly form groups and stay within them. We like being around people like us - people who look, think, sound and vote like us. For those who don't - well, they're out.
Unfortunately, this is also the case in many churches. Inclusion and exclusion creeps in if we don't keep careful watch.
While society and humans like to create "in and out" groups, Jesus does not. In Matthew 22, Jesus tells a story to explain how everyone is invited to his Kingdom. The "wedding feast" is open to all people. Scripture explains that all of mankind is invited to believe the Gospel and join His "club."
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests." - Matthew 22:8-10
You and me - those living in the aftermath of the Cross - we are those in the streets. We're the "bad as well as the good." We're ALL invited to be guests. It's a club where everyone's invited.
The matter we face is not about if we've received an invitation to a club; the question is which one we've chosen to join. Do we stay in our own clubs or focus getting included in others' when we're left out - or do we lay this all down and focus on the one club that really matters - the club where everyone is welcome?