Pentecost 11 “Insider Privileges”
August 16th, 2020 – Isaiah 56:6-8
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I love Costco. My parents became members of Costco Wholesale when I was pretty young. It worked well for us as we lived an hour from the city on a farm. My grandparents did too, and I often found myself growing up enjoying the food and goods that could only be found at Costco. Massive jars of peanut butter, bulk sizes of frozen treats in the summer, Kirkland brand this and that, and affordable clothing that fit a poor farm family’s budget.
Marion’s family, on the other hand, had little to no experience with Costco… well except for that one time. Marion’s dad went walking into a Costco one day years back just to check it out. He had never been before, and wanted to see what it was all about so he walked right in the door, as you would at any other store. Very shortly after he entered, an employee had noticed his lack of membership being shown and confronted him about coming in. “You can’t come in here, sir” “You need a membership” and was asked to leave. He could not believe he was not allowed in just to look around and see what it was about. He was escorted back out the door. I believe the next time he ever set foot into a Costco was when he came again, years later, as guests of Marion and I.
Groups can be exclusive and come with benefits if you are an insider and negatives if you are an outsider.
In years gone by even here in Dryden I am told there was a great divide in school between the city kids and the farm kids. Farm kids would be stereotyped as “big or dumb” while the city kids would be seen as “weak or lazy.” Farm kids could bind together against the city kids and the city kids would do likewise.
Boys clubs and girl clubs have always existed and offered benefits to one sex to the exclusion of the other.
Now a days we see women yearning to be made equal to men in all areas of life and men. Logically, you would expect men to be yearning to be the biological mothers they could never be.
We even still see exclusive groups based upon race. Though they are not as common as they used to be, they still do exist.
God’s people, who would receive His help in their lives; would come together to praise Him, and would communicate with Him in a relationship, were ethnically based. They were God’s chosen race.
They were like a family. God as the Father and the Israelites as the children.
But God created the whole world. God did not want to be constrained only as the God to a certain group. God wanted to be the rightful God of the whole world. He wanted to be the God of ALL people in the world across all of time. He wanted to be “that” dad.
Try this analogy. Do you know that house where kids would always go back to their friend’s with? That family whose door was always open to their children’s friends? Maybe you’ve seen this on TV, read about it in a story, or actually experienced it in real life either as the parent who always had kids in and out of your house or as the kid who was always at your friends house.
I knew a few houses like this growing up but was never able to go over to them much or bring a friend home because I was one of those “farm kids” a VERY long walk out of town if the bus didn’t drive me.
These family’s looked great, especially for kids whose own homes may not have always been the best places to be. They would eat with the family, sleep there from time to time, receive life advice from the parents, and comfort and security when things in life got tough. One might identify this kind of kid as a “mooch.” But they may also be seen simply as “One of the family.”
These kids would not do whatever they wanted though. The parents would need to lay down the law from time to time. “My house my rules” kinda thing. These kids would be disciplined, and raised, in part, by these parents.
God house is like that friends’ house for us. He wants to be that parent to His own kids and to His children’s friends. He wants everybody to be living in His house, under His rule, and receiving His love and care.
The texts for today all communicate this basic point. “God is for everyone.”
“Who is the child?”
God takes the concept that “He is for everyone” a little further. He adds a little dimension to it for us to think about.
If there is a son who never comes to see his mother and father, never calls, not coming together for the holidays, does not help with bringing his parents to medical appointments, and doesn’t show his love for his parents, is he really a child of the parents?
In contrast, if there is a person who is not legally this same parents’ child, but visits often, checks-in, is around for the holidays, helps with medical appointments, and shows love to them in various ways are they not a child to this parent?
Biology aside, who is acting like a child to this person? Who would you expect to be treated as family?
The question we have before us is membership criteria. What makes you a member?
We are all Gentiles, what makes us a member of God’s family? We point to the “adoption papers” so to speak, of our baptismal certificate. We say we are God’s child because He brought us into His family.
Acting as His children also is a part of being His children. We bring friends back home to share in the food and the relationship God provides.
What if you do not act as a member? Do not pay the “Costco membership” fees or show up to club meetings? What if you do not come to see God or show your love to Him by singing or reciting His Words back to Him or receiving His love the ways He wants to give them?
God has every right to revoke your membership – to disown you from the family. When you break His “house rules” even one small tiny one, He has every right to toss you out.
But, He loves you because you are His child! He will hang on. He will tell you that you are being foolish through His representatives here who will confront you – in love. He wants you to spend time on Him… as He spends time on you. Caring for you, listening to you, healing you.
You are God’s child, and you are a part of His family. That comes with so many benefits. Benefits that God wants everyone to have but they will not have if they never act like His child and turn away from Him.
God is always here to love and forgive and reach out to those who are lost. He is the God of the world and wants to be the God of all people. Our church is not an exclusive group that simply cannot take anybody because they do not fit the criteria but is open to all people that they may come and live under His rule and in His love.
Brothers and Sisters, family of God, you are privileged insiders of God’s all sufficient family because of Jesus.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.