being accountable to love and the others
Exclusivity is great! Especially when it makes us feel like we belong, it makes us feel safe. When it gives us the ability to surround ourselves with others who accept us and make us feel at home in our own tribe. There are many great things about exclusivity. But what if we become so comfortable in our own little groups that we forget to reach out to others? What if it becomes a place that is only safe for us and others that think like us and believe like us? But what if it becomes a place that is no longer welcoming to those who do not share our views? What if our ability to reach out and love neighbors like Yeshua instructed us to do is overshadowed by our own comfort and feeling of belonging?
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to this. Paul was a Hellenistic Jew who was raised as a Pharisee. He lived as they did prior to his dramatic conversion at Damascus. He was brilliantly educated in the ways of Torah, but also in Rabbinic tradition. Needless to say, he knew well the ins-and-outs of the word of YHVH. Imagine his skepticism when he was told to go to the unwashed, heathen masses and preach the gospel. These were a people that had nothing in common with himself and no real knowledge of the Messiah. And he was being told to go and convert them. Imagine how confused he must have been. Imagine how he must have felt at first. But let us not forget that it was Paul who penned the words in 1 Corinthians 13 to a newly formed fellowship that was made up not only of those new in the faith but those that had limited understanding and were struggling in that faith.
1 Corinthians 13:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
You see, when we forgo real agape love in favor of exclusivity, the people who are trying to come to us for partnership and guidance lose out. But we ourselves who lose out even more. Why? Because YHVH holds us accountable for helping, lifting, building up, bearing the burdens of, and loving one another. It was Yeshua’s mission to love the lost and the unlovable and the ones who were different and not accepted and those whom the Father sends us, He sends for a reason! What could have become a strong bond and a force for good as believers are strengthened has potentially been wasted because of our own selfishness.
We have to reach out to others in love. It was what the Messiah taught us, and we are His. We are to LOVE. We cannot lose sight of that. It is the reason we are here. What if we stop allowing people in our safe spaces because they’re not like we are- because they’re different? We lose the point of the entire mission and words of Yeshua. We become the thing we have fought so hard to guard against. We lose out on opportunities to teach and learn, and we risk falling into sin. We become just another clanging symbol.