"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a country club, but it is beautiful! I once was invited by a friend in America to play a game of golf (the Lord's sport) at his Dad’s country club. When I arrived I pulled up to a big steel gate with two security guards posted at each side, I’m pretty sure they both had crew cuts and were wearing silver reflector sunglasses. One of them approached my car as I sheepishly wound down the window.
“Name?” he asked bluntly. “Ahhh... James Murray,” I replied. After he looked at a clipboard for a moment he stared back at me again, “Ok sir, you seem to be on the list, you may now proceed with caution.”
As I drove in my jaw dropped. I had never seen more beautiful scenery; perfectly manicured gardens, opulent houses. There were more expensive, supped-up cars there than all 17 Fast & the Furious movies combined! This isn't even mentioning the immaculate, green golf course that weaved its way up to the clubhouse. When I finally arrived at the clubhouse I was met by some bag carriers who didn’t take too kindly to my dress code because I was still wearing my thongs (flip flops for my American friends, don’t get too ahead of yourselves!) and hadn't put on my golf shoes yet. Everything about the place was amazing, but you gathered pretty quickly due to the $200,000 dollar golf membership fee that this place wasn’t meant for everyone, if anything it was only available to a select few. You could say it was strictly exclusive.
Sadly this illustrates most people’s perception of the church, that it's a country club for the morally elite, a gated community for the 'good.'
To get in is hard and if you do, you better dress right and behave right, because this isn’t a place for just your average anybody.
The main purpose for Paul's writing to the Galatian church was so he could counteract the exclusive message that the religious folk had been propagating there. The religious where happy to know God and be loved by God, but didn’t want to make it a free-for-all. They felt Paul’s approach to God and his love was way too easy, too attainable, too reachable, too inclusive. They wanted to make sure people had to jump through a series of behavioral, moral, religious hoops before they could get to God.
But that's not the message of the strictly inclusive Gospel or the message of a strictly inclusive church.
Paul, inspired by God, wrote to aggressively and adamantly oppose that message, spending the entire letter declaring the simplicity of the Gospel and the attainability of God's love freely given through Jesus.
An exclusive gospel is a false gospel that only serves to alienate and separate a world from the God who died to save it. We cannot afford to be exclusive with the true Gospel message that was clearly displayed and purposed to be all inclusive.
You see, the church is not a country club; it's more like a hospital.
Although hospitals are clean in nature, they where designed to house and heal sick, broken and hurting people. Jesus declared in the gospels of Matthew, Mark & Luke, “It's not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick.” The reason why the church can never be a country club is because the truth is we are all sick. We all need help. What unites us as the church is not necessarily our pursuit of goodness, but the realisation that none of us are good and that Jesus still loves and accepts us and we trust him by his grace to make us better. He is the Doctor and our job is not to make more patients for him through the spreading of our religious malpractice in the world, but to bring him more patients through our love and service to the world. A strictly inclusive church is a hospital for humanity. What does a strictly inclusive church look like to you?
Article originally featured on The Pursuit Camp website. A camp for Every Young Adult!
James Murray is the Executive Pastor of C3 Cronulla Campus along with his wife Alanna. With their brood of gorgeous children in tow, the Murray's are building a dynamic, relevant, strictly inclusive place for people to come and feel at home. You can find out more about C3 Cronulla at their website or here.