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Radical inclusion

Radical inclusion

Something to read

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

- Acts 10:44-48.

Something to think about

In any community, there are likely to be people with a variety of approaches to change. According to a theory by sociologist Everett Rogers, ‘innovators’ are often the originators of new ideas, and ‘early adopters’ are those who are ready to embrace new ideas. At the other end of the spectrum, ‘laggards’ are the most loyal to tradition and very sceptical of change.

If God in Christ is the ultimate innovator, I think of Peter as an early adopter, and certainly a risk-taker. Remember his enthusiastic request to jump out of the boat and walk on water with Jesus? Perhaps that’s why he was the first of the early Church leaders to witness this new thing God was doing: including Gentiles in the Church on a completely equal footing with the Jewish Christians. For Peter, the call to action was obvious. God was at work, so the Church needed to catch up!

Perhaps even as he baptized these surprising new believers, Peter was already thinking of those he knew might resist the change, wondering how he was going to explain these events. But if he was conscious of the struggles ahead, Peter didn’t let it stop him embracing God’s radical inclusion.

Something to pray

Radical God, thank you that you move before and ahead of your people, drawing us into deeper understanding of the inclusive nature of your love. I am sorry for the ways that I can slow to recognise your Holy Spirit’s work. Help me to be both gentle and bold in calling your Church onwards in love. Amen.


Today’s contributor is Rev Claire Jones