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Thursday, February 11, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Mark 10:35-11:33

As I was reading the section of text about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, I was struck by the piece of the story where Jesus encountered leaders who demanded that Jesus show them his credentials. They wanted to know who had authorized him to speak because he was saying such challenging things. I too have found myself in similar hot spots over the years – all because of the way I handled an experience I had in my twenties.

As regular readers of my blog know, I went through an experience of exclusion where I was tossed out of the denomination in which I was raised because of my sexual orientation. Some people handle their experiences of exclusion by becoming avid exclusionists themselves – going after those who caused them to feel the pain of exclusion. I, however, chose to handle my experience differently. I took all of the pain I felt from being excluded and channeled it so that I could become a radical supporter of inclusion. My commitment to inclusion means that sometimes I end up creating safe space for the very individuals and/or groups who were responsible for my own exclusion.

When I do that, some folks question my credentials as a progressive. I have been accused of being a closet-conservative (“After all, why else would you create room for those on the other side of the aisle?”), a self-loathing gay person, a Neville-Chamberlin “peace in our time” appeasement-advocate, or an out of control people pleaser. Truth be told, none of those descriptions fit me (though there are days when I still struggle to keep my people-pleasing habits in check).

Instead, my die-hard commitment to inclusion stems directly in my understanding of who God is and what Jesus stands for. I cannot celebrate a God who would inspire only communities of clones to form; nor can I follow a Jesus who built a movement comprised of only those who saw eye-to-eye. Instead, I celebrate a God (and follow a Jesus) who pulls all people together – across all theological/ideological barriers. If that causes some to question my “credentials” then so be it.

Have you had experiences where your values and commitments – lived out to their fullest - have gotten you into trouble? If so, remember today’s passage and take comfort from the fact that you’re in good company.

Til next time…

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