Included.

I ordered a new Bible along with my textbooks this year. It was serving as a replacement to the Bible I’ve had since before the end of high school, which is absolutely trashed after being with me constantly through working at a summer camp, studying abroad, my time at university, and now lastly interning at a church. After picking up the new one, I went straight to a Bible class where we were reading from John 17:20–26. It’s Jesus praying to His Father, and it culminates in verse 26, where it says;

“And I have made Your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love You have for Me may be in them, and I in them.”

Under that verse in my Bible, I decided to take a quick note and wrote the word,

Inclusion.

I distinctly remember a moment way back in third grade during recess where I walked away from the other kids on the playground and thought to myself, “I guess these people just don’t want me around,” and in my 7 year old mind, that meant I shouldn’t be around. I was at a school in Orange County, California that I had moved to in second grade. It was the third school I had been to in my life, which is significant considering I started there at the age of 6. At every other school, I had pretty much assumed that if I was nice to people, they’d be nice right back, and that showed itself to be true. However, there was something about the school I went to in California, and for whatever reason, the reaction to kindness wasn’t quite the same. Long story short, after a year there I ended up pushed to the point of walking away from everyone there.

I think that statement of “these people just don’t want me around,” has followed me through my life. It’s a lie that has colored my interactions with just about everyone I’ve ever met, and it’s made me live in such a way that I was always proving to those around me that I deserved to be there. I had to earn the right to be around anyone, and frankly, that’s exhausting.

Last spring I was in a counseling session, and talking through that very experience in third grade. The counselor actually asked me, “What do you think God would want to tell you now about that moment?” and without even thinking, my response was, “I love you.” It sounds weird, but the way that phrase came into my mind made it clear to me that it couldn’t be anything but God speaking His truth into my life.

In that class I mentioned earlier, we were actually discussing the trinity, and the analogy we used to describe it was a Greek word, perichoresis. The root peri- gives us perimeter, and -chor- is where we get choreography. Essentially it means a dance in the round, and specifically, the three persons of the trinity participating in one motion together. Throughout this dance, it is God’s nature of love that acts as the music and the tempo for the dance, unifying it’s individual participants in a singular act.

In that verse I mentioned earlier, it implies that as we come to know the name of God the Father, and His identity, He comes to love us in the same way He loved Jesus, and Jesus becomes in us. If Jesus is in us, then we have the Father in us as well, as earlier in the passage it states that they are one, and this means we have the Holy Spirit in us to complete it off.

As a dance in the round goes on, it slowly but surely pulls those around it into the dance, and the dance of God is the same. His love invites us in, and brings us into oneness with them. That was why I wrote that word, inclusion, under the passage. It was the first word I had written in this new Bible, and I don’t think that’s an accident.

You see, even at our most isolated, we are being invited in. No matter how much we feel like the community around us would rather we weren’t there, God wants to include us into His Holy Community. As we hear the worst lies of, “I guess these people don’t want me around,” He speaks back with, “I love you, now come dance with me.”

The more I come to know this, the more I want to be so in tune with the rhythm of this holy choreography that it will move my bones and fuel my muscles so as to be unmissable. It should turn me into a monument and a signal fire to the greatness of the God I know, and in turn, invite those around me into His presence. Whether I’m actually saying it or not, I hope to proclaim the holy “I love you” of our God over this world. I might not be very good at it, but I strive to live a life that freely gives the inclusion I once sought, and there would be no greater joy for me than to remind you to lean into this dance too.

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Originally published at theforlornemoose.wordpress.com on August 26, 2016.

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