Saturday, January 3, 2009

The island of misfit toys as church

The island of misfit toys is a place for those who don't "fit in" in any other place. Whenever I would watch the cartoon when I was a child, that part of the cartoon was always my favorite part. It was the place where all the "rejects" were accepted. I like that. As an adult I've spent many years looking for a church that reflected something of that sensibility. In some ways, when I read the New Testament and even the Old Testament, I see a reflection of that "ideal" in how God chooses his people.

Hardly a day goes by that I don't end up speaking to or meeting someone who is an outcast, a misfit, someone who doesn't play well with others and so on. In almost every case, I find that they have felt, and more often than not, have actually experienced, being rejected by various churches because of their oddballness. Sometimes it's their own fault. Sometimes they really are difficult people. Sometimes they're not very good at "boundaries." Sometimes they make those around them feel uncomfortable just by their presence. Believe me, I've seen it and felt it myself.

So what.

Even if this were always true, which it clearly isn't, according to God's way of choosing, none of this is any reason for exclusion. We, if we are to call ourselves "the church," do not have the right to operate according to our comfort zone. In fact, God's way of choosing is explicit in it's basis. It is based entirely and only on his will and desire, apart from any merit in our part. As a matter of fact, whether it's the Israelites in the Old Testament as a people group, or it's individual believers in the New Testament, any time God chooses, it's in spite of us every single time.

Therefore, if we are to entertain any "ecclesiology" at all, it's to be an ecclesiology of inclusion. An immediate objection can be heard already. Doesn't this kind of approach to "doing church" lead to chaos? What about church discipline? Let's look at how Paul handled that pristine first century church in the lovely town of Corinth. After all, don't we all want to be just like the New Testament church instead of having to settle for what's available today?