1.20.19 - Belong (Kenny Camacho)
Numbers 15:13-16; John 20:24-29; Luke 19:1-10; Revelation 7:9-10
In the Bible, we repeatedly see God’s loving interest in inclusion. Among the ancient Israelites, foreigners and aliens were welcome. In the Gospels, Jesus calls into question the boundaries we set up between one another, and encourages us to love everyone, no matter what. And then, in the letters shared among the early Church, we see that spirit of inclusion in the sharing of the Good News with the Gentiles, or non-Jews. The through-line is clear: if we want to follow the example of God, we must be a church where people can belong before they believe what we believe. This means that we want to create a community that is vibrant, open, and welcoming, no matter what. By doing this, we can better imitate the behavior of Christ, who came to us while we were yet sinners, ate at our tables, lived among the impoverished, and gave generously, even to the point of death, for those who did not yet know Him.
How did you initially get involved with Christianity? If you are a Christian, did you feel welcomed in a Christian community before you became a Christian yourself?
There are many parts of the Bible that can feel exclusive and divisive. Did the passage we read from the book of Numbers surprise you? What is radical in those verses? What implications do these verses have for the modern church?
In the story from the Gospel of John, why do you think Thomas is permitted to remain among the disciples, even though he doesn’t share their beliefs?
Read over what Jesus says to Thomas. What do you take away from Jesus’s words? How are they challenging to you?
What other stories from the Bible can you think of where people are allowed to “belong before they believe”? What stories can you share from your own life?
Do you think it is important to maintain a clear line between what it means to believe and what it means to not believe? How can that line be maintained lovingly?
What are the implications of Revelation 7:9-10 for the church? What are the implications for you?