Being an outcast is an unfortunately common experience. I can still remember being the last one chosen for playground softball, and the only reason I was chosen at all is that the teacher made the captains involve everybody. I still remember my sophomore basketball season on the bench as a third-stringer. Most women can remember the experience of being left out of the desirable girls’ group. Every high school cafeteria has kids sitting at tables who feel like they don’t fit in anywhere.
It is one of God’s supremely urgent priorities for his congregations that no one is marginalized or made to feel like an outsider. People may enter as loners, but God’s goal always is to draw them into meaningful relationships: “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Is it hard for you to take the risk of being accepted by strangers? Do your fears keep you away from congregational life (and thus also away from the Word, Lord’s Supper, and fellowship)? The reverse question: are you a long-time member of your Christian organization? On a scale of 1 to 10, how well do you think your group connects with and assimilates seekers, outriders, and loners?
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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