The first four books of the New Testament, the gospels, tell us about Jesus’ life. One of the things I love about these accounts is how honest they are about the people who surrounded Jesus. No matter who you are, you can probably find someone just like you in the gospels.
Take the disciples. Jesus picked twelve followers, and he couldn’t have picked a more diverse group of people. For instance, he chose Simon the Zealot. Zealots were political extremists committed to opposing the Roman of Palestine. Some would label him as a terrorist. On the opposite extreme, Jesus also chose Matthew, a tax collector who worked for the Roman government. Talk about tension!
You also see differences in personalities among the disciples. Some, like Peter, were bold but made lots of mistakes. Others, like James and John, were ambitious. Thomas is widely labelled a doubter, although his request for more evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is understandable! John seems to have been gentler.
Jesus didn’t call one kind of person to follow him. He chose all kinds of people.
Fitting in the Church
As Christianity spread, all kinds of people found their place within the church. Christianity started among Jewish people, but as it spread, Gentiles started to join too. Tensions threatened to divide them, but the early church found a way for both to belong. Every racial group belongs in the church.
The early church faced other divides. Slavery was a big part of Greco-Roman culture. So were class and even gender differences. Within the church, none of that mattered. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus, wrote Paul (Galatians 3:28).
I love how D.A. Carson puts it:
Ideally the church itself is not made up of natural “friends.” It is made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything of the sort. Christians come together, not because they form a natural collocation, but because they have been saved by Jesus Christ and owe him a common allegiance. In the light of this common allegiance, in light of the fact that they have all been loved by Jesus himself, they commit themselves to doing what he says — and he commands them to love one another. In this light, they are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.
You Fit Too
Seth Godin talks about the importance of determining who it’s for. Every company, every business, every service needs to know who they’re serving. “People like us do things like this,” he writes.
When it comes to the church, the “people like us” part means young, old, politically left, politically right, rich, poor, and more. It covers every race and every personality type. Everyone belongs.
And the last part, “do things like this,” is simple. We gather not because we have it all together. We gather because we’re fascinated by Jesus. Around him, everyone belongs.
Including you. You fit. You’re welcome. Please join us.