All inclusive and all exclusive / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday May 9th 2021 / 6th Sunday of Easter / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Text: Acts 10:34-42; John 15:9-16; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-8
Theme: “All inclusive and all exclusive”
Intr – A friend of mine described the incident they once had in a resort in Punta Cana. It was an all inclusive resort, which means you pay a comprehensive fee where everything is included.
The problem started when they wanted to have a different bedroom instead of the one they’ve booked, which was not allowed. Later, they made some friends in the city and wanted to bring them in for the free food and drinks the resort offered them, but that was declined. Then they asked to use the manager’s office, which was forbidden to them; and as they were leaving they were taking two chairs, a lamp and some decoration with them, which was denied too. That was the last straw and they lashed out at the manager. Their bottom line was: “It says here it is all inclusive. We don’t understand why we were denied so many things”
If you know how “all inclusive” means, you know my friends were wrong and the resort was right. All inclusive means you have all included in the fee you paid as described in the contract.
This story is fictitious, but some stories are not. For example, “I’m so sad about the Christian Church that they are not inclusive. They must be losing members because they take such a stance on this day and time”.
Is it true that the Christian Church, our congregation included, is not all inclusive? Not at all, we continue to proclaim the Love of God offered to every single person. Does it mean that all inclusive comes with a “contract” a book that explains how it works? That is right. All inclusive means it includes all the things the book includes, the way the Book includes.
We see the inclusive and exclusive aspects of the Christian Church in the readings for today. Here is how they are inclusive:
Acts 4 – “So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but fin every nation anyone …. is acceptable to him”.
That is the truth of the Book, the Bible. God has shown his love over and over again to the World. He loved the World; He has reconciled the World with Himself. He accepts every person just the way they are and extends forgiveness, love, peace and hope to every single human being.
Psalm 98 – “The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness…. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.”
Another section of the Book in which we see an All inclusive God. Even in the OT we see already that His Power and Love were manifest in the sight of the nations and to all the ends of the Earth.
1 John 5 – “Everyone who believes…. has been born of God”
St John is yet another example of how inclusive the word of God is. If you believe you have been born of God.
John 15 - “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Love is the all inclusive power of God. God is love, and if you love people, you are doing it right; you are practicing God’s love and you are demonstrating how inclusive He is.
Now let’s talk about the exclusive aspects of the texts. If you know the Book, you know there will be problems with my quotes so far, for they brought parts of the texts in a way that they could be open to different interpretations we want to make of them. In the illustration of the opening, that would mean that if we wish we could bring friends for free food and drink, sit in the manager’s chair and take home from the resort whatever we want.
These readings show the exclusive line that runs throughout the entire Book: Jesus.
Acts 10:34: “So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” And then he describes Christ’s life, death and resurrection, showing that in His name there is forgiveness for all.
Psalm 98: “The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” God salvation is attached to the promised Messiah - Jesus Christ.
1 John 5: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—sour faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
John 15: Jesus is speaking: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
The all inclusive Gospel of Jesus is the all exclusive news that He is the Way the Truth and the life.
This is not hard to understand even if we think of human things:
_Some Groceries have their points card and you are free to buy everything you need. But you can’t just take that card and go to the store next door and have the same inclusiveness and points applied.
_The Roughriders are open to everyone who wants to be a part of the Rider Nation. But you can’t ask for a Blue Bombers jersey to be hanged on the wall, or start an online petition demanding that a spherical ball be introduced in their practices, for the sake of inclusion of other sports;
_The Mosaic in June is open to all and everyone who wants to participate in it. But you can’t go to the Chilean pavilion and complain they don’t have sauerkraut and rollmops, or go to the Ukrainian one and lash out on them for not presenting the Brazilian Tapioca or Cuscuz;
These, and many other examples. If you want to understand how an institution operates, you need to know their book, the guidelines under which they operate. If we try to apply our own standards to other people’s endeavours, we may incur in mild, moderate or grave errs of judgment. We might fail to understand how they really work.
When it comes to the Church, she is launched, led and loved by Christ, and we know about His Government through the Word. There we learn all about God’s all inclusive plan of salvation that is all exclusive in his Son, for that is the way God has loved the World: that He sent His only Son. Faith in him saves. Absence of faith in Him condemns to eternal separation from Him. Here’s the reason why, when we get to difficult passages in the Scripture, we don’t resort to a saying that goes “I don’t follow the Bible, I follow Jesus”, for this could be a hint that we are trying to shape Jesus to say what we need Him to say right now, and not what He already said right There.
This is fitting also for this Mother’s Day. A mother’s heart is all inclusive and there’s hardly anything a mother wouldn’t do for their children. Now does this all inclusive love a mother has in her heart mean she will accept everything and anything their children think, say and do? Would she endorse every company they want to hang out with; allow them limitless time before a screen; let them have only the food they want, and allow whatever time a toddler wants to go to bed? We know the answer. The all inclusive love of a mother is governed by the principles a mother knows that will help their kids best.
Also, she is very exclusive – she is one mother. She is not raising the kids next door, and the mothers down the street are not raising hers. Even though they can all learn from each other in an all inclusive way, the heart of a mother is exclusive to her children. This is where you are. You have a heavenly Father who loves you, loves all, inclusively – you were included in Christ’s redemption – and exclusive – His love’s visible face is in Christ’s redemption. You live your life in the certainty that the Lord loves you, guides you. The Lord calls out your sins, leads you to repentance and bring you to peace of mind with his forgiveness. The Lord is all inclusive with all His children, and at the same time has and ear to you exclusively. He listens to you and guides your steps. This is where you, mother, are as well. We expect so much from our moms, but you need so much too. You need your Father, His love and care, for all the anxiousness, fears and doubts you have; for the burden that may be on your shoulder about everybody’s expectations about how a mom should be. Also, for all the blessings and beautiful stories he built in your and your family through you.
Jesus is the Lord who guides His Church. That is why the Christian Church strives to remain an all inclusive Church as it is – there is no restrictions whatsoever about what type of people can come through the doors. All are welcome. And that’s why she strives to remain all exclusive – believing, teaching and confessing Christ alone, the Bible alone, Grace alone. We try our best to live God’s will in our daily life, loving our neighbor, helping our society, reaching out to our community in a loving way. We share God’s love in Christ so that this exclusive message may reach more people, bringing Christ’s sheep inside His fold.
Cc – All inclusive: this is our God in Christ. All exclusive: this is our God in Christ. He is our first and last resort. He is our resting place. He is open to all and everyone through faith, 24/7, every day of the year.
And all His Love and blessings included.