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One of the things that I always had a problem with in religion was its exclusionary nature – that if you didn’t do x or y then you were excluded. If you behaved in a certain way then you couldn’t be in ‘our group’. It seemed so very contrary to the gospel message.

The nature of Christianity is such that God reveals Gods self to us – that’s what is so amazing about God. If we choose to see, God reveals God. Through creation, he did some showing off and revealed the extent of his majesty and mystery, through his prophets he spoke his will and intentions for us, through his son, through his Word, God reveals who God is and the real meaning of love, divine love. Catching a glimpse of the ‘breaking in’ God, the God who seeks to be known is one of life’s greatest joys – that’s the God I know and love…

So here is this persistent, ‘breaking in God’, who sent his son, who came in human form to show us how to live – he suffered untold agony and gave up his life so that we would know that God loves the world – the whole world (John 3:16). And then there are churches or communities that exclude some of that world…

For those communities, I always wonder how they reconcile sending away the sheep that God repeatedly seeks to bring back into the fold… It seems clear that Jesus was always seeking to re-include, reconcile and make us whole in body mind and community, diverse community…

In our humanness we make some rules designed to structure our communities, structure our relationship with God and with each other. We make rules (religions) which guide how we can know God, we make some rules which highlight how we can experience God, but our rules can also hinder us from reaching God, they can un-reconcile us, separate us and polarize us. In trying to protect the community our rules can do serious damage to those relationships we were trying to protect, breaking up the community as a true Christ-like body.

Religion is not in itself a bad thing, it guides and stretches our spirituality, when our spirituality has gotten us so far, religion can show us a new way, a way we hadn’t thought of, a way which had been walked and experienced by someone else. But any religion which states that a person is unworthy to sit at the Lords table, which says a person is unacceptable to God, is not a religion that is of God in my humble opinion…

Religion should be the foundation upon which we stand to get to God but it is not the means by which we get to God. God was with us first, Emmanuel, ‘God with us’. Human beings may use religion to separate the body, but God binds in Spirit … who are we to say who or how God loves… God loves. *Fullstop*.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor death, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39)

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