God knows everything, and I know that truth, but when I say there is a word not in His vocabulary, I basically mean that He doesn’t choose to use it with His children. Do you have any idea what that word might be? I read three articles, all of which came to my desk in one afternoon with the same general thought in mind. I puzzled through the writing and wondered if God were speaking to me about the matter. Now, God doesn’t take some super duper bullhorn and call my name when He wants my attention. I am not suggesting that. But I do believe He speaks quietly through thoughts that He puts in my mind and heart. And when three things catch my hurried attention, I find it wise to stop and listen or, in this case, think about the subject.
The word is “exclusive,” or the act of being excluded. God doesn’t want anyone to be excluded from His love and grace. It is we humans who tend to add that word not only in our speech, but in our actions as well. Some people enjoy leaving others out of groups, parties, planning, fellowship, and activities. Others do it because they are in too much of a hurry and simply don’t plan ahead and think of the possibilities. There are times when two or three get together and plan an event, purposely inviting only those that suit their cause or those who can benefit them in some way. We all have our own friends. That is a normal fact of life, but it hurts to be left out — Just ask anyone who is.Remember in elementary school when a strong, smart athlete was choosing the ball team at recess? Everyone wanted to be chosen and no one desired to be last on the list. When the boss is looking for someone to head up a project, it is difficult to be overlooked and not selected time after time. Even in families, this horrible thing happens all too often.
I’m not naïve.
I realize that there are people that others simply do not want to be around for whatever reason. Perhaps they have proved that they cannot handle alcohol and would cause issues at a gathering. Maybe they have little home training and are often rude to others. Some simply have to be No. 1, and if they are not, it is miserable for everyone concerned. Some cannot financially keep up with even the smallest expense. I am not writing about these exceptions, which we all have in our lives. I am particularly writing about being careful to include everyone with whom it is in our power to fellowship and spend time with here on this earth.
For Heaven’s sake, be careful of excluding others when it comes to church responsibility. I can remember two stories that I think I’ll never forget about people being excluded in church relationships. One was given the flimsy excuse by an overbearing and evil pastor’s wife that the person could not lead a group because she was divorced. God help us all. If that were true, our churches would be leaderless. Another was told that “you have to prove yourself” before you can serve. Pray tell, who are they to prove themselves to? Surely not some mere human? I would think God already knows the heart of that dear person, and He can make that call.
The Bible teaches that God is not a respecter of persons. In other words, He has no favorites and He does not pit one child against another. Surely we want to be like Him in this manner.
Brenda Cannon Henley is an award-winning journalist and writer living on the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast. Having enjoyed more than four decades in ministry, Brenda shares her columns with our readers and works with churches and faith-based programs nationwide. She can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.