A number of years ago I was delighted with a little tale I found in the cartoon “Wizard of Id.” It showed a medieval peasant is sitting in front of a campfire under a dark sky. A half-dozen little boys were gathered around him to listen as he told a story. “Once upon a time, there was a very wise King,” the man began. “The king wanted to put all the people who didn’t fit in on an island. First, he made a list of all the people who didn’t fit in. The King’s list turned out to be quite long. ‘This will have to be a very large island,’ he thought… so, he dug a moat around the castle.”
In a way, isn’t that what Jesus did? Jesus dealt with a problem created by people who didn’t fit in. And the list of such people was quite long. Tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, Samaritans, all sorts of sinners. In fact for one reason or another I suppose all of us could have our names on that list. We don’t fit into the perfect creation God intended the world to be. Because of our self-centeredness, greed, fear of others, suspiciousness, prideful self-importance, lust, and more, we don’t fit into the kingdom of God. And that was a problem Jesus wanted to solve. In his own way, he dug a moat to make an island big enough for us all.
How do we deal with people who don’t fit in? Often we prefer to exclude them. We want them to be on an island where we don’t have to bother with them and where they won’t bother us. We don’t see people who don’t fit in as being necessary for our lives, for the church, for the country, or for the world. We don’t want to make adjustments that are needed in order to include such people if they are not like us. They are inconvenient at best, at worst they are seen as a threat. Depending on which circles you inhabit, those who do not fit in may be of a different race or a different nationality or a different social class or a different sexual orientation or a different educational level or a different ideology…and the list goes on.
Unlike us in our tendency to exclude those who don’t fit in, Jesus included all the misfits. That is to say, he’s willing to include all of us. Perhaps we would be more responsive to those who don’t fit in if we would realize that we ourselves are among those who don’t fit in. In light of the willingness of God through Jesus Christ to include us - though we have not deserved such wonderful treatment - we need to be more willing to include others. We must not allow fear, suspicion or discomfort to hold us back. We need to be busy tearing down the walls of hostility between individuals, races, classes and nations. What better way can we show our gratitude to God for including us?
Grace & Peace,