Since January 2018 I have been meeting with and having coffee with many of the folks that have visited our church. We discuss a lot of different things from, who I am to what Cornerstone is all about. One common topic that is often discussed, although not always phrased this way is, “will the people of Cornerstone accept me?” I think it is very sad that that question ever has to be asked of a church, but the reality is that the Christian church has had a history and sometimes still does of being very judgmental and exclusionary. This is not what Jesus taught and it should not be who we are. Acceptance should be the one thing that anyone should expect from the church, but it isn’t.
Why does acceptance of others come so hard to humankind? I personally believe it is because we haven’t evolved enough from our tribal instincts. In our tribal instincts we sensed that it was important to bond together with a few like-minded folks for our survival. We needed our tribe in order to survive. We hunted as a tribe, worked as a tribe, and fellowshipped as a tribe. When someone from outside our tribe approached it was often seen as a threat to our survival. Today, I think this instinct is still a part of who we are. An outsider is viewed often as a threat rather than a friend.
This reminds me of one of my struggles growing up. I remember in the 8th graded moving to Mission, TX. I was moving almost 10 hours away and into a completely different culture. Most of the kids I would meet spoke Spanish as their first language. Junior High is already a difficult time for our young people, but throw in a culture shock as well and it becomes a miserable time. I struggled to make friends and often felt like an outsider. No matter what I tried to do, I could not get a group to accept me. I had thoughts of running away to live somewhere else, but I knew it wasn’t a likely solution. So what could I do? The answer was nothing. I actually didn’t have to do anything. What ended up happening was a few boys decided that despite our differences they would be accept me for who I am. They brought me into their group and I soon had a group of friends and felt accepted.
Acceptance is not about getting others to change so that we can accept them, but rather a change in our hearts so that we can be accepting of others. As Christians we should remember one of our first callings in Deuteronomy 10. God has chosen us to chose others! We are called to defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19). Join us this Sunday at 9:30 AM (Sunday School) & 10:30 AM (Worship) as we continue our Rolling River Rampage VBS themed series and discover how God has called us to acceptance!