The dear people of Parkland, Fla. have been heavy on our minds this week. The perpetrator of the school shooting, the one guilty of these innocent deaths, represents what seems to be a recurring profile. A loner, isolated and angry, a “least of these” type who didn’t fit in, and who, in hindsight, didn’t socialize normally. I’m not suggesting the reasons for this are simple or explainable.
But, what if we look with foresight rather than hindsight at the ‘outsider’ person within our own circles? What if we noticed him or her? What if we invited them in? Within the fray of debates about gun-control and increased school security, what if we banded together and made a radical effort to teach our children to befriend the outsider? (The Bible uses the word, stranger in Matthew 25:38, not to be confused with ‘stranger-danger’).
A CNN news anchor following the Parkland shooting reported that the 19-year-old shooter “wasn’t even welcomed to sit with the rejected kids at school.” What does that say? Even the rejected had a community. Our Creator made us to need loving relationships. All of us crave community.
I heard a radio caller today ask, what is biblical unity? Chris Brooks (Equipped, Moody radio) answered, “You have unity when there are no more outsiders.” He based his answer in Ephesians 2:11-16.
Please think of your own circles—school, church, campus, neighborhood, family, workplace. All of these are social environments where there will be some who feel like outsiders. What if each of us made unity in that circle our goal this lent? No more outsiders. That starts with noticing the one who is unpopular, hangs out on the fringe, plays by himself/herself, eats alone. It starts with a simple invitation, “Hey, come sit with us…Here’s a seat for you.”
Why should you care? Because someone cared for you. Someone invited you in when you were a stranger. Someone fed you when you were hungry. Someone looked after you when you were sick. Someone visited you when you were in prison. His name is Jesus. In his community, there are no outsiders. In his kingdom, there is peace, and there is love.