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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


Daily Boost

November 2, 2012 - Inside/Outside

By George Paul Wood

An old Christian song for children begins with these lyrics:

One door and only one

And yet its sides are two

Inside and outside

On which side are you?

The song takes its cue from Jesus, who said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (John 10:9, KJV).

We moderns don't like the distinction between insiders and outsiders. We don't like divisions of any kind, for that matter. They strike us as elitist, judgmental and dangerous. The Nazis drew lines between Germans and Jews, the Communists between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and the South Africans between whites and blacks. To distinguish insiders and outsiders is to distinguish good from bad, and that distinction creates all kinds of problems.

But drawing distinctions is inevitable. If we condemn the Nazis, Communists and South Africans for their invidious distinctions, haven't we simply distinguished ourselves from them? Isn't our distinction elitist, judgmental and dangerous? Of course not! The issue is not the distinction itself, but its truth and use.

Consider what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13:

"I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people — not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked man from among you'" (NIV).

I believe Paul's distinction between "those inside" and "those outside the church" is true, although it's beyond the scope of today's devotional to prove it so. Instead, I want to focus on Paul's use of the distinction.

Paul commands the Corinthians "not to associate with sexually immoral people" (or immoral people of any stripe). He goes on to say, "With such a man do not even eat." He's not talking about outsiders, however, but insiders! God sent Jesus, and Jesus sent the church, to proclaim grace to outsiders. That's why Jesus' critics said of Him, "Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and 'sinners'" (Luke 7:34). Jesus associated with sinners, graced them, and changed them. Not them — us.

Our commission is the same as Jesus'. We cannot change others, however, unless we have been changed. To Jesus and Paul, precisely because insiders exist for outsiders, they cannot act like them. This doesn't require perfection on our part, but right direction. We "insiders" should be trending toward godliness through God's grace. If we're not, we need to tell the truth and go back outside.

— George Paul Wood is director of Ministerial Resourcing for the Assemblies of God and author of The Daily Word online devotionals.



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