Thursday, January 05, 2012
Today’s Topic: Include Me!
Today’s Text: Isaiah 56:3 Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.” And let not any eunuch complain, “I am only a dry tree.”
My story is not unique. It’s painful for me, just as yours is for you, and it is a pain that must be resolved because ultimately it’s a lie. The pain comes from the belief that we never fit in. That pain is magnified by combining it with circumstances that we choose to validate the feeling. My circumstances easily validated my pain. I never had a town that I called home. I never had a friendship that lasted more than 5 years because we moved that often. Every time we moved I had to try to fit into a new culture and social context. I chose to believe that I was unaccepted and worthy of it. I chose strange behaviors to compensate, which only made it worse. My wife can verify the reality of my self-destructive behavior. I really believed I didn’t fit in.
We long for someone to accept us. We crave being included. We fear being told we are not welcome. It is so powerful in us that we begin to perceive every word and action of others as a statement of their unwillingness to make us their equal. It becomes a destructive thought pattern.
God knows that about us. When He created Adam and Eve He perfectly accepted them. But then the Enemy of God and of all God created entered the scene and convinced those first two humans that God didn’t really accept them because He was holding out on them. There was something He didn’t want them to know, and if that was true then they weren’t fully accepted. They believed the lie, and we do too. We believe it about our friends. We believe it about our family. We believe it about our boss or our co-workers. We even believe it about our church family and our pastor. Pastors even believe it about their congregations. We believe that we don’t fit in and will never really be accepted.
In the days of Isaiah, God was declaring that when the salvation of God appears and His righteousness is revealed, all the people of the world could find a place of acceptance. It would not matter if someone was a foreigner or a slave, they would be given an equal place in the Kingdom. Acceptance in God’s Kingdom would not be based on one’s nationality, one’s gender, one’s abilities, or one’s heritage, but rather on one’s acceptance of God’s covenant.
If you are feeling like you don’t fit in anywhere, then the truth of Isaiah 56 is for you. It is time to stop living your life as a response to a lie, and time to start living in response to God’s love. If you read the following Scripture carefully and honestly, you just may discover, as I have, the great truth of God’s grace – we are accepted. When we cry out to God and say, “Include me!”, He does. Hallelujah.
Isaiah 56:3-8 (NLT)
“And my blessings are for Gentiles, too, when they commit themselves to the LORD. Do not let them think that I consider them second-class citizens. And my blessings are also for the eunuchs. They are as much mine as anyone else. 4For I say this to the eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy, who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me: 5I will give them—in my house, within my walls—a memorial and a name far greater than the honor they would have received by having sons and daughters. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear! 6“I will also bless the Gentiles who commit themselves to the LORD and serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who have accepted his covenant. 7I will bring them also to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations. 8For the Sovereign LORD, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel.”