I don’t know if you have ever been the ‘new kid’ at school, on a team, at a job, in a group, or in a neighborhood, but I have. I remember walking into that unfamiliar setting, not knowing anyone, not sure of who is friends with whom, not knowing the ‘inside language’ or having any history or fun remembrances to talk about. Sure, all this would change as time would pass, but in that moment it’s a bit awkward, uncomfortable, and lonely. Besides, all that it can be stressful, as you don’t want to say or do something that will make you look bad or have you be the target of something embarrassing…like the time I parked in the bosses ‘sacred’ parking space, not knowing that everyone knew it was his space, I wore that label for a while!
However, in each ‘new kid’ experience I can remember someone willing to help me along. They included me. They helped me learn the fun and interesting idiosyncrasies and characteristics of the new place as I acclimated. They would make sure I was included as I walked into conversations, giving me background so I would know what was being talked about. They invited me when a group would head out for lunch or coffee. They shared the back story so I could laugh along at the funny happenings of the past. I greatly valued that person! They made me feel included, part of that family.
In a day were isolation is rampant and self-focus is the norm, we need more and more people to step up and be people who include others. The Bible has a lot to say about us enfolding people into our community and family.
Exodus 23:9 Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Ancient Israel knew what it was like to be strangers, aliens in a foreign land and so God challenged them to be kind and reach out to those who are new. We live in a world where many people move in from out of the area and even out of the country. They need a kind person like you to include them, to help them be part of a community. The Apostle Paul, who while writing from prison says…
Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We have been called to be kind, loving, and helpful to all people, including those who are new.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Romans 15:5-7 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
This calling of being kind does require we turn our eyes outward and notice people and care about them.
Philippians 2:3-4 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
This is not easy in our busy, can’t-add-one-more-thing-to-my-plate world. Yet, there has got to be a way to adjust our lives so there is enough margin to reach out to others. Jesus taught that. In one instance, when asked what was most important in life, Jesus responded to love God and love neighbors (Matthew 22:36-39). When asked who are our neighbors, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). It is a story of taking the time to be kind to someone hurting, showing them love and mercy.
There are a lot of opportunities to help people feel included. Will you?
Church can be a great place to not only be included, but help others feel included. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove this week. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net . We would love to include you!
Seeking help people be included along with you,