Be Aware of Outsiders
LEA Weekly Devotional
2008–2009 series: Red-Letter Days
August 19, 2008
Extended Reading: Romans 11:1–2, 13–15, 28–32
Be Aware of Outsiders
“In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in” (Romans 11:32 MSG).
Have you ever wondered if it was insiders who created the word outsiders or outsiders who created the word insiders? If you haven’t, you’re probably healthier of mind than this devotional writer is, and you probably NEVER end a sentence with is. (Does that make you one of my outsiders or insiders?)
Outsiders is an unattractive word used to refer to those who aren’t like us. We use it in various degrees as well. For example, ELCA Lutherans are one degree of outsider to LCMS Lutherans; Muslims are a greater degree of outsider. (Do NOT insert jokes, snickers, or wise cracks here.) To Paul, our Epistle writer, gentiles—people like most of us—were outsiders in the religious world of Jews. And vice versa.
More and more Lutheran school classrooms and even some Sunday schools attract outsiders. Unbelievers, Christians of other ilk, and claim jumpers are among them. (Okay, so you ask, “What is a claim jumper?” It is this writer’s term to refer to those who claim church membership but don’t know the current address or pastor of the congregation to which they claim membership. But it’s too many words to say all that; ergo, claim jumpers—and you get the idea.)
As you approach ministry to outsiders, it’s good to remember one vital fact: be aware of them.
First, outsiders may not be outsiders. Those whom you include in your world of outsiders may actually be bona fide Christians, just like you. Somewhere along the line, they gravitated to a different denomination. What complicates matters is that some Christian denominations aren’t in fellowship with other Christian denominations. You, personally, cannot do much about that, except to remember that God said, “Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds” (1 Peter 3:8 NLT). At the time, He wasn’t referring to Presbyterians, Catholics, or Wisconsin Lutherans, but sometimes it’s easy to slip into that thinking. Take care not to include among outcasts those whom you will wake up to find among us in heaven.
Second, you must be aware of outsiders because they need your special welcome and attention. That shouldn’t be hard to accomplish. You once were just like them, and this goes beyond the Jew/gentile bit. Once you were God’s enemy. Your hostility may have been overt or, perhaps, it was insidiously hidden beneath the tender beauty of a yet unbaptized baby. Make no mistake: You were an outsider to God.
Then He came looking for you. He made you an insider.
God never tires of looking. Now that He has You, He wants more. And He wants you to serve Him by serving those for whom He is looking. Since He already became Man, in the person of Jesus Christ, He already accomplished the hardest part. And now He sends the Holy Spirit, who equips you for your mission. (So He did the hard part there too.)
Outsiders may cause trouble. They may recite the commandments a different way, end the Lord’s Prayer early (or on time, depending on how you look at it), or cling to weak or inaccurate doctrines. Their gods may be other than the Triune—or completely non-existent. Regardless of their condition, God has sent them to you, that you may share the Gospel and steer them toward doctrines more true to Scripture.
Love and cherish the outsiders. Bring them inside. Use God’s Word, your warm witness, and your commitment to excellent education to do it.
Written by Edward Grube, LL.D.
Director of Publications & Communications
© 2008 Lutheran Education Association
Scripture quotations identified as MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
Scripture quotations identified as NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
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